Factors to consider when furnishing your rental property

Should you furnish your rental property or not? There are benefits to each of these routes, but you’ll want to properly assess all factors before you make the decision. If you are a new real estate investor or if you are thinking about upgrading your current properties, here are some things to consider before you decide to furnish it.

 

Benefits to furnishing a rental property

Ultimately, if you can make significantly more profit on a furnished rental property, you should consider it. Here are the three main benefits of choosing this option:

1. Charge More Rent 

Since you are providing extra value and convenience for your tenants, you can charge more for rent. On average, most charge 20-30% more than if the property was unfurnished. Over time, this extra collected rent means more money in your pocket.

2. Fill Vacancies Quicker

When your property is ‘move-in’ or ‘suitcase’ ready, tenants will need less time to prepare for their move. They save time and energy, meaning you can potentially have a tenant signed and paying rent much quicker than an unfurnished home.

3. Tax Deductions

In Canada, furniture and equipment are considered capital expenses in rental properties. This means a portion of these costs can be claimed on your taxes. Be sure to check with your federal and provincial tax rules to know exactly what applies to you and your property.

 

Questions to ask before you furnish your rental property

While there are financial benefits to furnishing, you want to make sure that this option attracts the right tenants and makes sense for the market. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when getting started.

1. Who is your ideal tenant? 

With location and price point in mind, who will likely rent out your property? University student? Family with young kids? Retired senior couple? Consider your target audience and the likelihood of them having furniture they will use. For example, an exchange student might require that they rent a furnished home vs. a senior couple that has accumulated furniture over the years.

2. What is your budget?

Do you plan on buying everything brand new? Or are you going to use some personal furniture or buy second hand? Either way, make sure you create a reasonable budget. If you decide to use personal items in the rental property, don’t use anything with sentimental value. Remember, anything in the home could be damaged or stolen, so keep that in mind when furnishing.

3. What design style are you going for?

Modern and trendy? Classic and traditional? Regardless, neutral is always best so that you can attract a variety of tenants while allowing space for them to add their personal style. The furnishing choices should also be suitable for the ideal tenant that you previously identified as well.

 

Furnishing your rental property is a big decision but it could lead to long term financial success. Need help managing your investment property? Get in touch with us at Cornerstone today!

Ways to diversify a real estate investment portfolio

Building an investment portfolio that includes real estate assets is a great way to build wealth. Here are four options to consider and the benefits of including long term rentals as part of your strategy.

Real estate investment options

Here are four examples of real estate investment avenues that range in risk, commitment, and cost.

1. Short Term Rentals

These are vacation homes or condos that you put on the market for short term stays. As investments, these properties have huge profit potential, especially in high tourist areas and during busy travel seasons such as Christmas. However, that income isn’t consistent and more management is needed with the quick guest turnaround times.

 

2. House Flipping

Giving a home a complete renovation seems like the glamorous way to make money. You’re able to redesign a home that was outdated and sold for a good price, to be highly profitable and desired among homebuyers.  However, they can be time-consuming projects and often more expensive than expected if not pre-planned correctly. Find out how we can help with your renovation.

 

3. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT)

Basically, these are shares in real estate investment companies and are relatively hands-off in terms of managing. The benefit of investing in trusts is that you don’t need tons of capital to get started, however, there is limited upside or potential for leverage when compared to other real estate assets.

 

4. Long Term Rentals

This type of real estate investment is quite popular and these properties are rented out to long-term tenants. While finding the right tenants, collecting monthly rent, and managing maintenance calls can be overwhelming, there are a number of benefits to investing in a property as a long term rental. All associated costs, such as the mortgage and utilities, are covered by the tenant and your property will increase in value over time. This means you can sell and rent out for a higher price than you paid all while generating that extra wealth for yourself.  Plus, you can hire a tax-deductible property manager to handle the day to day operations to keep your property and tenants in check. Find out how we can help here. 

 

Choosing how to invest in real estate can be a tricky area to navigate. From big commitment projects like flipping a house to real estate investment trusts, there are a number of pros and cons when considering what is best for you. What type of asset are you going to invest in next?

7 low maintenance houseplants to add to your rental space

They boost your mood, clean the air, promote happiness, and are a great way to style up any living space! So whether you are looking to spruce up your furnished rental property, or searching for a gift for your tenant, houseplants are an excellent addition to any home. Here are seven low maintenance houseplants perfect for green thumbs and plant newbies alike!

 

1. Snake Plant

Snake plants are one of the most trendy and easy-to-care plants today. They are nearly foolproof and thrive when they are neglected. Among the 70 variations of this plant, they are one of the rare plants that release oxygen at night, making it the perfect addition to your bedroom.

2. Chinese Evergreen

This popular lush houseplant can tolerate almost any indoor condition. It’s a slow-growing plant so whether you buy it small to live on a desk, or fully grown to accent a corner of the home, you can expect it’s appearance to stay consistent with little maintenance.

3. Aloe

Indirect sunlight, little water, and this succulent will thrive! They only need to be watered generously every 3 weeks, and can even be brought outside in warmer months. They make a great decoration for any living room and the aloe gel inside the leaves can be used for any cuts or burns as needed.

4. Jade Plant

This is another popular succulent plant with dark green oval-shaped leaves. It’s also called the money plant and is known as a great housewarming gift for new homeowners (or renters)! It loves lots of sunlight, so it makes the perfect addition to any window sill.

5. Ponytail Palm

With its bulb shaped trunk and wispy leaves, ponytail palm plants can add interest to any room. They do best in semi-dry conditions, so don’t worry if you go weeks without watering. They can grow in low light conditions but moving this plant around the home throughout the year to catch the light is a great tip to help your palm prosper!

6.Dragon Tree

These plants are fantastic indoors and they stand 6 feet tall or less. They feature fork-like stems and stiff green leaves with red trimming. Just be careful, it’s easy to overwater these ones and should be left alone in bright indirect sunlight areas. Just leave them be and they are sure to be an eye-catcher in any room.

7. ZZ Plant

This plant’s technical name is zamioculcas zamiifolia. And while that’s extremely complicated to pronounce, taking care of this plant is as easy as it’s shortened name. These plants have bright green waxy leaves and tend to be 2-3 feet tall when fully grown. These plants are drought resistant and do just fine in low light and direct sunlight conditions, which makes them the perfect accent for any room including basements.

 

Houseplants seem to be making a trendy comeback when it comes to home decorating, but they have many more benefits than just adding some colour to a living space. As a landlord or property manager, take a look at your property to see which plants would be best for each room and start adding some leafy greens to your space today!

Short Term vs. Long Term Rental Properties

Are you going to invest in long-term or short-term rental properties? This is one of the first decisions you make as a real estate investor. While there are pros and cons to each type, here’s a breakdown to help you decide which is better for your investment goals.

Long Term Rental Properties

Well, the name pretty much gives it away! Places that are leased for months and even years at a time are considered long term rentals. These properties are commonly unfurnished and the Residential Tenancies Act applies.

Pros

1. Easy to manage

Once the property is occupied and all the agreements are signed, the property manager’s job is mostly hands-off with the exception of the occasional landlord repair or maintenance duty.

2. Consistent income

As soon as the property lease is signed, you are locked in with consistent income for the duration of the contract. Who doesn’t love a steady paycheck from their investments?

 

Cons

1. Long upfront process

Since the tenant will be living in the property for an extended period of time, you want to make sure you choose the right tenant, which can sometimes take a long time. Not to mention the marketing efforts required to get your property seen and in demand.

2. Contract and price locked 

While being locked in a contract and price has its advantages, it can also be a setback. If you end up having a difficult relationship with the tenant or if surrounding properties are charging higher rent for a similar place, it’s not as flexible as short term rentals.

 

Short Term Rental Properties

Think vacation homes, like anything listed on AirBnB or VRBO – these are all considered short term rentals. Because they are often used in the same way that hotels are, they are usually furnished and have supplied amenities to make the renters stay as pleasant as possible.

Pros

1. Inspected on a weekly basis

As the property is inspected and thoroughly cleaned between each stay, consistent cleaning and inspections ensure that your investment is well-kept and any problems are fixed before they turn into a bigger or more expensive bill.

2. Pricing flexibility

Know that your area is in higher demand over the Christmas holiday or that April is super quiet and you just want to book it out? Well, you are able to increase and decrease nightly or weekly rates to meet the demand!

 

Cons

1. High turnover 

With new guests every few weeks or even days, this high turnover means more work overall. You’ll have more tenants to juggle, more cleaning duties and more responsibilities to make sure your investment property is ready for the next guests.

2. More marketing efforts 

To go along with the high turnover is the stress of making sure that your property is being seen, rented and in demand. This means knowing what has to be done to really sell the place to have guests choose your property over others.

 

Which one is better for you?

There are pros and cons to each style of rental and you have to decide which one is better for your investment goals and lifestyle. Also, be sure to take a good look at how your property would perform as each type. A lakeside condo in a vacation town might do better as a short term rental and an entire home in the suburbs of the city might do better as a long term rental.

Are you interested in real estate investing but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you already have a few properties and need help with the overall process? We can help! Get in touch with us today!

A Guide to Tenant Screening

 

Every property manager wants their property to be occupied. But, every property manager’s dream is to have their properties occupied with tenants that are reliable, pay their rent on time, and treat the rented space with respect and care. We know ideal tenants are hard to come by, but with this guide to tenant screening, you can make sure that you sort the good prospective tenants from the bad. Here’s a list of 5 things you should do when looking for a new renter!

 

1. Make a Checklist

The first step is to make a checklist of tenant non-negotiables. Do you have a minimum amount of time for the lease agreement? How many months of rent payments are you requiring upfront? These should be personalized to your standards. If you own multiple properties, some might need their own custom checklist. Are some buildings not pet-friendly, or is it an adults-only building? These extra custom lists come more into play with apartments or buildings with multiple occupants, but they are important to create before you look for renters.

2. Create a Pre-Screening Application

Since in-person meetings take up time and effort by yourself or your property managers, it’s a good idea to have a thorough pre-screening application for tenants to fill out beforehand. Now is a good time to request income information or a credit report to ensure that they will be able to meet rent payments. At HamiltonHomesforRent.com, our online application requires a photo ID and proof of income, but everyone does it slightly differently.

3. Request a Criminal Record Check

Requesting a criminal record check can help with that peace of mind for the owner and other tenants if there are multiple renters in one home. You have to be careful with this step though – permission for the police check must be requested first and you cannot refuse tenancy solely on this report alone. However, this extra step can ensure that the prospective tenant is not currently involved in criminal activity that can harm others and your property.

4. Collect References

Just like they do for new hires at a job, you want to look at what past employers have to say about this person. Ideally, your renter has had past landlords but if not, employment references also do the trick. Give these references a call or request a reference letter to get to know a little more about the prospective tenant. Again, this step helps to ensure you are choosing a responsible and trustworthy tenant to live in your property.

5. Meet in Person 

After they have passed all the previous steps in this guide, the last step is to meet in person for a viewing. While they browse the home, be sure to talk and get to know them a little more. Here are some example questions you can ask:

  • Do you have any pets?
  • Where are you moving from?
  • How long do you plan on staying in this area?

Talking in person will provide a good read on the type of tenant they will be, so be sure to ask questions to build rapport and make sure that everything they stated in the application is true.

 

With these 5 tenant screening steps, you can smooth this often overwhelming process – especially with loads of applications to sift through! Following this guide will decrease your tenancy turnover rates, save you time in the long run, and lead to lasting relationships with your tenants. Need help managing this process? That’s our speciality! Get in touch with us today!

 

7 Tips For Cleaning Your Rental Property For The Next Tenant

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, cleanliness is more important than ever. You can be assured that your future tenants will want to know the property they are moving into has been cleaned thoroughly and properly disinfected. Here are some tips on how to clean your rental between tenants.

1. Require Tenants to Clean Thoroughly

The cleaning process should start with the existing tenants who are leaving the property. You should already have an agreement in place that clearly states the condition the property needs to be in when they leave, but it can help to provide tenants with an additional checklist of what needs to be cleaned so there is no confusion. Improper cleaning can be a reason to withhold or deduct from their deposit, so make sure you do a thorough inspection before returning the deposit.

2. Reclean the key areas

Even though your previous tenants have cleaned the place we recommend going back and cleaning the key areas again. This includes areas like the entryway kitchen, dining area, and bathrooms. These are key areas that new tenants will look at and even the perception of a “dirty” unit can throw people off.

3. Clean carpet and paint

You may not need to deep clean the carpet or paint after every tenant, but you should do it as often as you can. A professionally cleaned carpet will stand out to prospective tenants, and a simple fresh coat of paint will cover any wear and tear or marks on the wall. Not to mention the fact that carpet can collect germs that could be harmful to the next tenants. 

4. Inspect the forgotten areas

Cleaning a whole unit can be a big job, so it’s easy for people to miss the not so obvious spots. Make sure to check appliances (inside and out), light fixtures, air intake vents, blinds, door handles, window frames, fireplaces, cabinets (inside, above, and below), and inside closets.

5. Don’t forget the outside

The appearance of a property’s exterior can make a big difference when attracting new tenants. This is particularly important if you are renting out a single-family home or townhouse. Make sure the yard is in order and things like the sidewalks, driveways, porches, gutters, siding, windows, and doors are all looking their best. In many cases, a simple pressure washer can make all the difference. 

6. Disinfect

Cleaning with soap and water is great for getting rid of dirt and grime, but you’ll need a proper household cleaning disinfectant or bleach to completely get rid of viruses or germs like COVID-19. Make sure to clean high touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. For more about how to clean for COVID-19 check out this article from the CDC. 

7. Create a detailed checklist for next time

Creating a detailed checklist that covers the cleaning process will save you time and ensure you don’t miss any of the often forgotten areas. This list can also serve as the cleaning checklist you provide tenants and will make it easier for you to do the final inspection. Each property will have its own set of unique nooks and crannies, so it may also be helpful to create notes on what to look for in that specific unit. 

Cleaning is obviously just a part of getting your investment property ready for the next tenant. Follow our blog for more tips on managing your property and getting the most out of your investment. 

Need help getting your rental property ready for your next tenant? 

Get in touch with us today!

Four Ways to Improve Your Rental Property’s Security

Handyman installing security system in rental home
Handyman installing security system in rental home

Security is arguably the number one concern for every renter. They want a home in a community that can guarantee their safety, as well as the safety of their belongings. As a property manager, it’s your responsibility to offer potential tenants maximum protection against break-ins, robberies and other potentially alarming situations. Staying on top of rental security will help you attract a larger tenant pool, and keep you collecting rental income for a long time. For all the property managers ready to get proactive about securing their rental units, here are a few options you should consider.

1.Install a security/surveillance system

Installing a surveillance system in your rental property is one of the best ways to put tenants at ease and ensure their safety. Plus, with the wide variety of security systems available on the market today, you’ll be able to find something that is within your budget. The newest security gadgets have some pretty impressive features that are sure to address renters’ safety concerns. Some come with window and door sensors, smoke alarms, and motion detectors to help keep your rental safe. Newer surveillance systems also offer high-definition imagery and upload videos to a cloud system that can be reviewed by property managers or tenants at their convenience.

2. Add external lighting

Using external lights is one of the easiest ways to deter potential intruders from making a move on your rental property. When people see outside lights on, they’ll assume your property is occupied – making it less of a target. If you want to go a step further, we suggest installing motion-sensing lights. These lights are able to sense movement dozens of feet away and turn on once suspicious activity is detected around your rental home. This smart feature will help scare off unwanted intruders.

3. Replace locks 

It’s good practice to replace the locks in your rental property after each tenant moves out. New locks ensure that anyone who has a copy of the keys to the home – such as your previous tenants’ friends or family members – no longer has access to the space. This will help new tenants feel a little more secure in their new home. Another benefit of changing the locks regularly is the opportunity to upgrade to a better-quality product. Like any product with moving components, locks are subject to wear and tear. Worn-out locks are loose and easier to pick, so, replacing them with newer better-quality locks makes it almost impossible for anyone to gain access to your rental property without the right key.

4. Secure main entrances and windows

Since doors and windows are the primary sources of entrance to your rental property, ensuring they are secure is important. When installing front doors, you should opt for hardwood options as they’re heavier and more secure than their hollow wood counterparts. When it comes to securing your rental property’s windows, we suggest installing locks or window sensors to keep them from being tampered with.

As a property manager, it’s your duty to keep your rental unit and the tenants occupying it, safe. By implementing these four tips, security won’t be a source of stress for your renters.

Need help securing your rental home?

Get in touch with us today!

Five Ways to Improve Landlord-tenant Communication

Landlord ad tenants talking
Landlord and tenants talking

As a landlord or property manager, having great relationships with your tenants should be one of your main priorities, and the key to excellent landlord-tenant relationships is communication. By establishing open lines of communication, you can avoid tricky disputes concerning leases, move-outs, and rent payments amongst other things. Being readily available to your tenants can even prevent excess damage to your rental property as tenants will feel comfortable reaching out to you before maintenance issues spiral out of control. If you’re looking for great ways to establish a better relationship with your renters, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve shortlisted some of our top tips for improving landlord-tenant communication.

1. Establish communication guidelines

The first step to establishing good lines of communication with your tenants is establishing some basic standards. Let your tenants know about your office hours and the best way to contact you – by email, phone call, or even mail. You should also provide your renters with an emergency number in the case that an urgent situation arises after business hours. In this case, it would also be beneficial to outline what scenarios constitute an emergency situation. Setting guidelines like these help avoid confusion and frustration as everyone is clear about the best ways to reach out in every situation.

2. Give your tenants options

Different tenants have different preferred means of communication. Older tenants may want to speak with you in person, while gen z renters may prefer to send you a quick text. This is why, as a landlord, it’s essential to have multiple ways for your renters to get in touch with you. Provide your new tenants with your email, phone number, and if you’d like, your office address upon their move-in. Just be sure to ask for a reasonable notice period before an office visit. Allowing tenants to communicate through means that they’re comfortable with increases their likelihood of reaching out to you.

3. Be transparent and honest

Tenants tend not to reach out to dishonest landlords. After all, what’s the point of asking for help or raising a concern if the issue won’t be addressed truthfully? As a landlord, it’s your job to be as honest and transparent as possible with your current and potential tenants. Be honest about the condition and size of the rental property, the amenities in the area, and conditions of their lease. You also want to be transparent about what you expect from your tenants – i.e., when to make rent payments etc. Honesty and transparency help establish trust in landlord-tenant relationships. When tenants know they’ll get a truthful answer, they are more open with their concerns.

4. Speak simply

When it comes to landlord-tenant communication, its best to keep it simple. Most situations don’t call for long paragraphs filled with complex real estate jargon that tenants most likely won’t understand. Keep your communication light, concise and engaging so tenants are more likely to comprehend and respond.

5. Communicate more often

Most tenants only hear from their landlord when they move in or are about to move out and this shouldn’t be the case. To help establish good lines of communication, we encourage you to reach out to your tenants more often. Help them with their move-in, send greeting cards during the holidays etc. This lets them know that you’re always available and willing to help.

Communication is the bedrock of every good landlord-tenant relationship, and with these five tips, you and your tenants will be on your way to better interactions in no-time!

Need help with tenant communications?

Get in touch with us today!

Six Ways to Retain Quality Tenants

Happy tenants moving into new rental home
Happy tenants moving into new rental home

As a landlord or property manager, you already know the value of good tenants. Those who pay their rent on time, take great care of your rental property, and keep the lines of communication open and pleasant. Tenants like these are hard to find, so when you do come across them, it’s essential to make an effort to keep them. This way, you’ll maintain a steady rental income and avoid the stress and expenses that come with marketing a vacant rental unit. Without further ado, here are six great ways to retain quality tenants.

1. Stay on top of maintenance tasks

Being proactive about property maintenance is one of the easiest ways to keep quality tenants around. Keep up with regular property inspections and make quick fixes to your rental unit before they become larger issues. Doing this leaves a good impression with your tenant and shows them that you’re committed to providing a nice home for them to live in. Being a landlord that is proactive about routine maintenance also helps your tenants avoid the frustration of living in a home that’s falling apart – and this could be a major deciding factor when it’s time to renew their lease.

2. Adopt fair housing practices

Everyone loves a good deal – this includes your tenants. It’s no surprise that tenants who feel like they’re being cheated are more likely to look for a new residence. To avoid this situation, we suggest you adopt fair housing practices. For example, when setting rent, offer a reasonable price that is comparable to similar properties within the area, or current rental rates within the market. 

3. Get familiar

Creating good rapport is another great way to keep good tenants around. As a landlord or property manager, being friendly and establishing open lines of communication between yourself and your tenants is a good business practice. Send your tenants a welcome basket when they move in and be easy to contact in case they need assistance with anything regarding their new home. These little gestures go a long way when building trust and goodwill.

4. Allow some personalization

The difference between a house and a home is how comfortable tenants feel in the space. When tenants come home to their art hung up, or their favourite colour painted on the walls, it helps them feel like the rental unit is truly theirs. To retain your tenants, we suggest you allow some level of personalization. This will increase their attachment to the home, resulting in an increased likelihood of them renewing their tenancy. 

5. Offer renewal incentives

If you’ve got a great tenant whose lease is coming up for renewal, offering a renewal incentive might be the perfect way to influence their decision. You could offer monetary incentives like a rent discount over a period of time, or you offer property upgrades like new appliances, paint, landscaping etc. Most tenants will be appreciative and swayed by your efforts to keep their business.

6. Know what tenants want

As a property manager, knowing what tenants want is an essential part of your job. Not only will a home that caters to renters’ wants help you perform well in the rental market, it will also help you retain quality tenants. Check-out our blog to help you figure out what renters are looking for in a newly renovated home. 

Tenant retention is the name of the game for all property managers. With these six tips, keeping your tenants happy and in your rental property will be easier than ever.

Need help managing your rental?

Get in touch with us today!

Five Property Management Technologies Property Managers Should Be Using

Property managers using management technology
Property managers using management technology

There’s no doubt that property managers have a lot on their plate. From dealing with contractors to marketing rental units and working hard to keep tenants happy, most property managers have a lot of work to do on a daily basis. Luckily, in this day of modern technology, there are tons of tools at your fingertips to help you stay organized, streamline tasks and manage your workload. To help you stay on top of your game this new year, we’ve shortlisted five of the best technological tools every property manager should be using.

1. Appfolio Property Manager

Appfolio Property Manager is a commonly used tool in the real estate industry. This cloud-based technology is an excellent choice for property managers who want to monitor their rental units – anywhere, at any time. The Appfolio’s property management software offers an all-in-one solution for accounting, marketing, leasing and management functionality for everything from single family to commercial rental units. Using Appfolio, property managers can do everything from posting vacancy ads on hundreds of listing sites to screening tenants and collecting rent online. 

2. Buildium Property Management Software

 Another favourite amongst property managers, Buildium’s software lets property managers tackle business operation, accounting and leasing tasks from a single platform. Buildium also helps you manage your growth as a property manager. You can easily find, win and onboard rental properties in your area into your portfolio. That’s not all – the Buildium Property Management software allows property managers to create their own custom sites – this way you can have an online platform to host all your available listings.

3. BeenVerified

Your success as a property manager is highly dependent on the quality of your tenants. That’s why the BeenVerified app is a must for every new property manager. With this app, you can conduct thorough background and credit checks, get access to public records and any other essential information that will influence your tenant selection. The BeenVerified app is user-friendly, and a perfect option for anyone who is just getting into the property management game.

4. Salesforce Essentials

Widely considered the best CRM tool, Salesforce helps property managers manage and better their relationships with tenants. Salesforce Essentials allows you to streamline communication with your tenants and respond to their queries and concerns in a timely manner. This CRM tool also makes automating document and form filing, and data retrieval a piece of cake. Another selling point for Salesforce Essentials is that it’s also available as a mobile app – making it the perfect choice for property managers on the go.

5. Rentmoola

Figuring out rent payments can be a pain for both landlords and tenants alike. But, with the help of apps like Rentmoola, sorting out monthly payments is easier than ever. Rentmoola is a simple, easy and secure rent collection solution that lets tenants pay their rent in a method that’s most efficient for them and their property managers. This could be via credit, debit, auto payments and more. Rentmoola also provides real-time reporting tools to help you keep track of rental income.

Property management doesn’t have to be an overwhelming job. With these amazing technologies in your toolkit, you’ll be able to get a handle on your workload in no-time!

Need help managing your rental properties?

Get in touch with us today!