7 Tips for Choosing The Right Contractor

7 Tips for Choose the Right Contractor

You might be tempted to be the “everyman” for your property. And if you only own a couple homes, maybe you can be. It isn’t too difficult to drop everything and go fix a window or check out a safety concern when your to-do list for the day is small. But it’s a different story when you own multiple properties. Being handy with a toolbox isn’t enough – you need to hire a professional. But how do you pick someone you can trust? Check out our seven tips for choosing a contractor to work on your home:

1. Available Contractor Does Not Equal Good Contractor

If you have a pressing repair needed on a property, you might be tempted to pick the person who is free the soonest. But the truth is you should expect the good contractors to be the busy ones. Don’t be afraid to wait for the right fit, especially if hiring for a recurring service.

2. Have a Plan

Don’t be tempted to ask the contractors to make a renovation/repair plan for you. It’s going to be harder to compare contractors this way, and you could get talked into more than you need. Make sure to have a detailed idea of not only the work you want done, but a timeline and materials before you even pick up the phone.

3. Don’t Stop At The First Interview

A good rule of thumb is to interview three candidates. Even if you still go with the first candidate, every interview is a learning experience. It might seem like a time suck- but you’ll better understand how the bidding system work and how to negotiate a contract. Plus, you’ll know with certainty you picked the best person for the job.

4. Ask For Work Samples:

References are great. But just because a previous client says they did a fantastic job, does not mean the work will fit your specific needs and vision. To really judge the quality of a contractor’s work – you need to see it. Ideally they will have something similar to the style of your project. Ask for photos or even to see work in person

5. Check Licenses and Insurance Info

Skipping out on someone with an official license might seem like a way to cut costs. But you are taking a huge risk. A license proves credibility because the contractor needs to take an exam over processes and codes related to building. Same with insurance. If something goes wrong and a nearby property is effected, you don’t want to foot the bill.

6. Ask for an itemized bid

This tip ties back into number 2. Every contractor will give you a quote. But if you can get it, an itemized bid is better. With this you can see what each part of the job costs individually, so if you decide to remove or replace it, you can be better prepared for the price change.

7. Find Out Their Suppliers

A unique reference perspective for your contractor is actually their suppliers. Be sure to check out their websites and judge the quality of the materials going into your project. It’s also chance to ask about the contractor’s work ethic and track record from someone with a different viewpoint.

Finding the right contractor can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve never hired out before. You are trusting someone else with your property, and might feel pressure from tenants if it’s an immediate need. RENU has a trusted network of contractors. If you need help, call us today.

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Employee Spotlight on…Michael Mack

Employee Spotlight on ... Michael Mack

Michael’s Mack journey into property management began when he saw a chance to make a positive impact on the industry. He was initially a property owner until “the great crash” of the real estate market in 2008. He found it “devastating but equally interesting” and realized that a lot of home owners were likely to make the switch to renters. So, Michael earned his real estate broker’s license, bringing with him his personal experiences of being an owner himself.

When he’s not working as the managing broker for Wisconsin, Michael enjoys multiple hobbies – including martial arts. He was a 2nd degree black belt instructor at both Sei Zan Ryu Kempo and Oom Yung Doe Martial Arts. He also likes to spend time outdoors, with favorite activities including fishing and sport shooting.

He goes through the day listening to music all across the board – from top 40 to classical. Michael normally just wants to match his mood. While there are no pets at home YET, he eventually sees himself adopting a shelter dog and grew up with farm animals.

When asked who inspires him, Michael mentioned a California pastor Samson Curtis.

We’re glad to have Michael Mack as a part of the RENU team, managing over 200 residences across multiple markets. He treats owners and tenants with a golden rule mentality that we appreciate, and think you will too.

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Employee Spotlight on…Catie Clements

Employee Spotlight on... Catie Clements

When asked to describe herself, Catie Clements kept returning to the word eclectic, both personally and professionally. After graduating from Purdue University in 2007, she worked in Personal Training before making a big jump to Banking and ultimately landing here in Property Management. Her hard work managing the finances for RPM is fueled by lots and lots of coffee.

In her free time, Catie likes doing anything outside. Whether it’s a beach or the woods, she enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and taking in the fresh air. She’s also planning to help maintain a garden at her local church this year that supplies the church’s food pantry with fresh produce. Her companion on all these activities is her husband, Matt. They’ve been married almost a decade, after initially connecting as high school sweethearts in Carmel. When they aren’t being active outdoors, you can find the couple at food or brewery festivals year-round.

The Carmel native now lives in Westfield with her husband and 3 cats. They vacation regularly to tropical places, two of their favorites being Jamaica and Hawaii. In addition to their island vacations, her family frequents Orlando and Denver to get away as well.

We’re glad Catie has been the Corporate Finance Manager here at RENU for 6 years. Having her at the helm of the intricate finances that make up our line of work allows everyone to sleep better at night.

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Property Taxes 101

Property Tax 101

If you’re a new landlord, you might feel overwhelmed at the idea of filing your taxes this year. It’s no longer as simple as just turning in a W2! An organized system of records and receipts is now going to be your best friend. If looking at a Schedule E form is giving you a headache, a tax professional can walk you through the process. Before you go file though, there’s a few things you need to know…

  1. What Counts As Income

You probably know to include the rent you receive for the year as income. But have you considered how to treat advance rent and security deposits? An example of advance rent that you need to include would be if a tenant signs a multi-year lease that requires it. So if they pay an installment for 2016 and also their last year, 2018, BOTH count as 2016 income. The consideration for security deposits is that you do not need to count it if you plan on returning it to the tenant.

  1. Deductions You Can Make

It’s not just repairs and supplies that can count as expenses deductible from your return. Keep great records throughout the year, and you’ll thank yourself. Cleaning, travelling, and even advertising are all fair game if they are “deemed appropriate” as a necessary expense for running your business. However, improvements are not deductible. The full list is available on Form 1040, Schedule E.

  1. When there’s Depreciation

Depreciation can be a complicated concept. The process begins when the property is officially placed “in service for the production of income”, which means it does not need to have a tenant to begin depreciating. The process ends when the property is either retired from use or you have recovered all the costs associated with it. Landscaping is not usually tied to depreciation, but it might be under certain circumstances

  1. How You’ve Been Using The Property

If you’re new to property ownership, you might not realize you need to keep track of personal use days. Even if the rental property is in service most of the time, you still have to report any days you used it for something else. If you are in business with a spouse, you will count usage as a qualified joint venture.

  1. Who Needs a 1099

A good rule of thumb for 1099s is that ANYONE who receives more than $600 dollars in relation tomanaging the property needs a 1099 MISC Form, postmarked by January 31. For you as a property owner, this means you’ll probably be providing this form to people who maintain the upkeep of your property – any repair men, plumbers, carpenters, etc. who aren’t a part of a corporation.

All of the above information is available for review on irs.gov. You can also download the necessary forms and even speak to an interactive tax assistant within the website! But don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional. Over time you’ll find a record keeping schedule that works for you, and tax season will feel less like fighting through a mound of papers and more like a simple check of a box.

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5 Smart Property Renovations

5 Smart Property Renovations

So you’ve found yourself with a property vacant again– and it’s a disaster. There’s a strange smell, stains on the carpet and walls, and some of the appliances aren’t even working. It might feel tempting to just scrap everything and start over to avoid tearing your hair out. But this isn’t likely to get you the best return on your investment.

Before you take a sledgehammer to the wall, make sure you know what you expect to make back on the property. And while every situation is going to be unique, keep in mind the 5 smartest renovation choices:

  1. HouseCurb Appeal

No one is going to want to come inside your property if the outside isn’t appealing. If you have a yard, make sure it’s landscaped and free of trash. Make sure the grass is routinely mowed and even consider planting a few flowers. It also doesn’t hurt to invest in a nice mailbox, where the street address is easy to identify if someone is trying to look it up.

 

  1. Update the Kitchen

Your tenants are going to have to spend everyday cooking food in the kitchen. The last thing they want is to prepare food in a space that isn’t desirable, or even worse, isn’t functional.  Granite countertops is an expensive choice, but will stand the test of time.  If you don’t want to splurge, do some research on what trends are popular in your area and attempt to emulate them. For appliances, try to make choices that will lower costs in the future – such as a dishwasher with stainless interior.

 

  1. Living room with fireplaceCheck the floors

Especially if you are in between tenants, the area that has likely taken the most “wear and tear” is the floor. If you’re still using carpet, consider replacing it to hardwood, or at least a nice looking laminate value tile. You’ll thank yourself later when you save money with a quick wash instead of spending valuable time and money getting out carpet stains. While it may feel like a big expense up front, eventually you will see the return on this investment by reduced turn over cost. If it’s not a move you can afford to make, at least make sure the carpet is professionally cleaned and consider adding rugs to spruce up the area and protect it.

 

  1. Look at paint

New coats of paint might just be the cheapest renovation you can do that will immediately make a difference. Try to stay away from trendy colors that will quickly go out of style. While you might see an initial spike of interest, the rate on investment is going to fade when you have to replace it once the trend is over. Instead, consider bright but neutral colors that stand the test of time. And try to paint the whole unit the same color – ideally at the same time. This is more cost effective and allows easier accountability when your tenant moves out. 

  1. bathroom-1336164_1920Simple Bathroom Upgrades

Even if there isn’t the budget to replace the shower or bathtub, take a look at the smaller pieces of the bathroom you might be able to update. A new shower head or toilet seat is not going to be an expensive purchase. But if you pick a nice one with different settings that’s in good condition, it’s going to be a touch that makes your bathroom like new. When it comes to the sink, take a look at the faucets. Replacing these will give it a fresh feel, even if the hardware is the same. Recaulking will also create this effect.

 

Despite these renovation guidelines, you may still feel like you don’t know where to start. If there are more serious issues with the property such as a broken window or damaged ceilings – of course this will take up a major part of your budget. So you have to make the tough choices on which renovations to invest in. If you are still unsure, consider contacting a property manager. An expert will be able to asses your specific situation – and turn your property from a disaster to a delight.

 

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Housing in 2017: The Good, The Bad, and the Notable

Housing in 2017: The Good, The Bad, and the Notable

Mortgage company Freddie Mac called 2016 “housing’s best year in a decade”. While your experience may have varied by your location, it’s encouraging to see that overall last year brought in the highest home sales since 2007 and the fastest rate of construction growth sine 2008. The recession is beginning to feel like a faint memory, with metro areas seeing economic growth.

But is 2017 going to continue this trend? Is it a year to be cautious or finally take that investment plunge? Let’s take a look at the forecast for some answers.

The Good:

1. Credit Risk Will Stay Low

Purchasing a property is a major decision for multiple reasons – one of them being the impact on your credit. Buyers can be nervous about how their purchase might effect the score they’ve worked so hard to maintain. Luckily Core Logic’s Housing Credit Index shows that 2017 should continue to be favorable for these credit risks.

2. Renting Will Become More Affordable

Increased supply has grown to meet rental demand, meaning investors are finding enough renters and can afford to lower prices. This is in part due to more people finding roommates to double up with and can also be attributed to the creation of more multifamily rental units. The renting game is evolving with the times, and it is benefiting both parties.

The Bad:

1. Mortgage Rates are Going To Rise

As the housing market recovers from the crash, mortgage prices are going to raise rise. While this might be a good thing if you are selling, it could mean buyers are more hesitant to purchase and slow the speed of sales we’ve seen in 2016. And time is running out if you are looking to buy. It doesn’t look like inventory is improving either as it’s currently down 11 percent and isn’t likely to get better.

2. Price Appreciation Will Slow

Unfortunately for long time owners, it’s going to be a down year for home price appreciation. While in 2016 growth was at 4.9 percent, 2017 is predicted to see only a 3.9 increase. This shouldn’t scare anyone too much because we don’t know what future years will bring, but is still disappointing.

The Notable (Neutral):

1. Millennials Are Headed to the Midwest

Times are changing, and CBS news predicts that instead of making moves to the coasts, college graduates are going to settle in the Midwest. These locations offer good jobs and more affordable housing options. Madison, Wisconsin; Columbus Ohio, and Minneapolis, Minnesota are a few cities to watch for this trend.

2. Suburbs Will Grow in Popularity
Those who aren’t renting are looking at the suburbs for affordable housing. This means that people driving to work will increase for the first time in a decade because many flocking to the suburbs live in the city. Despite the increased commute time, people in 2017 are going to find the sacrifice worth it for the cheaper prices.

No matter how true these predictions turn out to be 2017 is bound to be a year of a change. Whether you buying or selling, it’s more important than ever to make sure you are working with a property manager who has your best interests at heart. Doing so will ensure 2017 is your best year yet.

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Why Hire a Property Manager?

Why Hire a Property Manager?

You know that owning a rental property can be financially rewarding. However, managing that property requires a large commitment of time and effort. If you don’t have the time or resources to devote yourself to the task of managing your property, hiring a property manager may be your best option.

Here are some reasons you should hire a property manager to take care of your rental:

Setting the right rental rates

A good property management company will conduct a thorough market study to set a rental price for your property. They will ensure that you achieve the perfect balance between maximizing your monthly income and maintaining a low vacancy rate.

Collecting and depositing rent on time

Securing payments from clients tenants can be difficult, as well as awkward. Property management companies have efficient, trusted systems to effectively collect rent and maintain timely payments effectively. This is especially important if you have a limited number of properties and need to collectcollecting payments on time is essential to maintaining cash flow.

Marketing and advertising property

A property manager knows exactly where to market your property and how to create compelling advertising materials. This is a major advantage when it comes to filling properties quickly and avoiding long vacancies.

Finding the best tenants

Experienced property managers are experts at finding the best, most trustworthy tenants. They can take care of all the details, including securing criminal background and security checks, running credit reports, verifying employment and collecting previous landlord references.

Managing the tenants

The property management company will completely manage the tenant-landlord relationship. They will also handle both routine and emergency maintenance, take care of routine inspections and manage situations where conflict resolution is required.

Managing vendor relationships

Property management companies have relationships with maintenance workers, tradesman, contractors, suppliers and vendors. It’s almost impossible for an independent landlord to form these connections. Your property manager will get you the best work at the best price and oversee necessary maintenance.

Ensure that you are complying with housing regulations and property laws

There are many laws and regulations to abide by when renting and maintaining your rental property. These include local, state and federal regulations, along with fair housing regulations. Property managers can help you avoid lawsuits by keeping your property up-to-date and in compliance with regulations.

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Tips for Retaining Good Tenants

Tips for Retaining Good Tenants

If you’re a property manager/landlord, you know that well-mannered tenants pay rent and take care of the property. There is also loss involved in rental income as the property lies vacant, along with the time, effort and money that go into advertising for new tenants, screening potential tenants and turning the property.

Here are a few pointers to help you ensure that your best tenants stick around:

Look after the property and your tenants

Your job doesn’t end when you hand over the keys to the rental unit. To attract and retain good tenants, you need to have a clean, well-maintained property that demonstrates your intentions as a landlord or property manager. Make your tenants feel happy and proud that they live there. Dirty swimming pools, overgrown landscapes and malfunctioning lights are all factors that will matter when your tenant makes the final decision to renew the lease. A landlord or property manager who efficiently maintains a clean property and shows concern for the comfort of tenants will win support and loyalty.

Be responsive and positive

It’s easy to get your tenant to renew the lease if they like you and are glad to deal with you. Always answer tenant calls, call back and show up for important things to keep your tenant happy. Respond to tenant’s requests or complaints quickly and if you need more time to resolve the issue effectively, communicate this to the tenant. Don’t ignore the request, even if you think it’s beyond your control. You should also be proactive in solving issues that you know might creep up sooner or later.

Observe fair housing practices

Follow fair housing rules that help tenants create a comfortable home. Offer practical rental prices that are comparable with other properties in the neighborhood. Tenants won’t stay with you if you charge high rent that isn’t in line with the neighborhood or current market conditions.

Be friendly

Don’t be a stranger who only turns up to collect the rent. Send greeting cards or gift baskets to tenants on their birthdays, send well wishes on major holidays and thank them for being a good tenant. It doesn’t cost much and it will bring you a lot of trust and goodwill.

Create a rewards system

Many innovative property management companies use resident rewards systems to reward tenants for good behavior and reduce tenant layover. These programs are only beneficial for the landlord if there are a sizeable number of tenants.

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Let Us Introduce You to RENU Investor Property Management Indiana’s Online Home

Let Us Introduce You to RENU Investor Property Management Indiana’s Online Home

Serving property owners in Indianapolis and the surrounding region isn’t a task we take lightly at Real Investor Property Management Central Indiana. We aim to continually provide our clients with service they won’t get anywhere else. As we announce the official launch of our new online home, we couldn’t be more thrilled about the new resources and tools available to our clients and tenants. We truly believe that this marks yet another step in our journey to become the best property management group in the state of Indiana.

We started off the website development phase by partnering with OpenPotion, the industry’s leading creator of property management websites. Together with their team of experts, we’ve crafted something truly sensational. Let’s take a look at some of the awesome features of our new home.

Dedicated Portals for Property Owners and Tenants

As a property owner, it’s imperative to have continual access to your account. From monitoring your financial statements to reviewing inspection reports, we want to give you unparalleled access, around the clock. With our dedicated portals, that goal is no longer just a pipe dream. With the simple click of your mouse, you have full access to every property in your portfolio. Best of all, renters benefit from a portal of their own, which makes it possible for tenants to pay rent in mere seconds.

A Comprehensive Overview of RPM Central Indiana

We understand the intricacy of choosing a property manager for your home. After all, an effective management strategy can make or break your investment. Our new site goes into extensive detail and provides you with more information than ever before. From upfront pricing details to full bios of our talented team, we aim to provide all of our clients and prospective partners with an authentic view of who we are. We’re confident that you’ll love what you discover.

Detailed Information about the Areas We Serve

Tenants looking for a new place to call home often wonder which city would serve them best. From affordable housing solutions to accessible parks and public recreational spaces, the cities of Central Indiana have a wonderful array of attractions and appealing attributes. Would-be renters can explore this wealth of information, and discover more about the areas we serve. It’s just one more way that we’re advocating for property owners and businesses in our local area.

Whether you are a property owner looking for the right management partner, or instead a tenant in search of a new home, Real Investor Property Management Central Indiana strives to provide the absolute best service possible. We hope our new home on the web will serve as yet another resource for our loyal clients and tenants, and a further example of how we’re doing all we can to provide an unparalleled customer experience. We’d like to thank our friends over at OpenPotion, and we look forward to hearing your feedback as we launch our brand new online destination.

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