10 Tips to taking the best photos of your Phoenix Rental Property!

If your having trouble renting your Phoenix rental property perhaps you need to change out the pictures – after all they are the first thing that a potential tenant will see.  Use the following 10 tips to get the best pictures of your property:

1. Clean and de-clutter the property before even starting with your camera.  Be sure that the property is exactly how the tenant will receive it when they move in.
2. Use neutral colors through out for paint and carpet – this way every possible tenant’s furnishings will go with the colors.
3. Take photos from every angle, leaving the camera on the widest angle. Compose your shots carefully. Standing in the doorway or corner usually gives the best perspective.
4. Take pictures with the blinds open and closed as well as with lights on and off so that when you review you can be sure to have the best shots. 
5. If sunny windows are making the room look dark, try focusing on a wall or floor first. This should adjust the exposure for a balanced shot. This way, viewers can see the details of the room clearly.
6. Keep the camera straight or adjust photo tilt later so images appear level.
7. Always make sure the toilet seat is down and the shower curtain is gone! This will make your bathroom look much neater. 
8. Take pictures with the front door and sliding glass door open so you can try to catch natural light.
9. Be sure to take several angles of the front of the house as well as shots of the back yard that show what the landscaping look likes.
10. Be sure when putting your pictures together that you do so sequentially as if someone is walking through the property via the pictures.

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10 Mistakes the New Phoenix Landlord Makes

Are you a new landlord? Do you know some of the most common mistakes new landlords makes?

Perhaps you have an investment property or maybe you are looking to purchase real estate to bolster your portfolio.  It may seem like a good time to purchase a rental property given the increased demand for rental homes, but being a landlord is not as easy as it may seem and there are some costly mistakes new landlords make if he/she does not prepare themselves to avoid the common pitfalls that go along with the investment opportunity. To assist you in your investment endeavors we have listed 10 common mistakes and how to avoid them:
1. Not Running Credit/Background Checks: If you are not running credit and background checks, you need to; you never really know if a person is representing all they are to you without a non-biased report. Look for any negative trends in the credit history. Verifying employment is also recommended, obtain copies of their most recent pay stub or other income verification from an outside source. Have a verification release signed by the potential renter to obtain information from employers and past landlords and then follow up on sources for accuracy.
2. Not Counting on Vacancies: There usually is a gap in time between the date a renter moves-out and stops paying rent and the time a new renter is found and starts paying rent. Set up a savings account to cover expenses for up to 3 months. While you are at it, establish a maintenance account for ongoing recurring items such as leaky faucets or toilets.
3. No Written Rental Agreement or Lease: The days of “My word is my bond” and handshake deals are a thing of the past. Rental agreements and leases are legally binding agreements that create a contract and define the terms or understandings of each party. Without a legal “contract” you will have a hard time enforcing terms or ending tenancy should you need to go to court. Make sure you are using a document that is compliant with your state laws.
4. Not Inspecting or Neglecting the Property: The property that you are renting-out is your responsibility. You are required to maintain the interior and exterior of the property and good renters expect to move into a clean, well-maintained property. By ensuring the property is “market ready” (meaning, the property is maintained to the level that you would move in to it) before you secure a renter, you can ensure the renter is happier and you have to deal with fewer phone calls. As the owner of a rental property, you are required to make sure that your property meets local and state health and safety standards.
5. Delaying Legal Actions/Evictions: Delaying legal action or the eviction process when renters default on their lease obligations (including not paying rent) can be very costly. File necessary legal actions timely to help mitigate lost income and potential damage to your property.
6. Not Keeping Up on the Rental Market/Not Raising Rents: Do your research and due diligence to ensure your rental rate is appropriate for your area. If you already have your property rented, but do not increase the rent upon renewal, you may not be managing your investment effectively. Thinking that the renter will move or that you do not have enough time to re-rent the property are common fears, however, those fears do not make you any more money. Renters do not expect rents will never go up and in-fact many expect a modest increase each year.
7. Not Giving Your New/Renewing Renters a Lead Based Paint Disclosure: For most rental property owners and as of December 6, 1996, the Lead Based Paint Disclosure law went into effect. According to the law, every owner with a property built prior to 1978 must give all new and renewing renters a disclosure and pamphlet on lead paint. Failure to do so could result in a $10,000 fine.
8. Not Paying Your City Rental Taxes: Most cities in the Phoenix metro area require a rental tax to be collected and submitted to the city on a monthly basis.  If this tax is not paid you may be subject to extensive fines.  Be sure you check with your local city and/or the Arizona Department of Revenue for the amount of tax to collect and filling guidelines. 

9. Not Factoring in the Value of Your Time: Unless you are a full-time real estate investor, odds are your primary job is not being a landlord. But now that you are a landlord, you are probably spending several hours a month dealing with your rental, especially during a lease turnover. One big mistake new landlords make is not valuing their time. Ask yourself, “What is my time worth?”, do a little math and then determine if you are still getting a return on your investment. If not, you may want to think about what you can do to ensure your rental property is working for you instead of the opposite.
10. Not Accounting for the Learning Curve: Finally, a common mistake new landlords make is becoming a landlord without accounting for the learning curve. Not accounting for your lack of experience can cost your long-term. You should either get great advice from experienced landlords or consult with professionals such as attorneys with experience in landlord/tenant and investment property laws and a licensed property manager to ensure you are covering your bases and not dealing with unnecessary risk with your investment property.

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Have Your Tenants Abandoned You?

Do you think your Phoenix tenants have packed up and departed in the middle of the night, leaving you with unpaid bills, damages to your property, and piles of trash? 

Perhaps you have noticed the“clues” they are preparing to leave before the end of the lease. For example, maybe they are behind in rent and unresponsive to requests for payment. 

Unpaid rents, unanswered calls and letters, heaps of trash in the trashcans, and empty parking spots indicate that your tenants may have disappeared. Before you can legally enter the property based on abandonment, you must first confirm that the tenants have abandoned. Perhaps the tenants temporarily left to deal with family problems, and they intend to return. As the landlord, there are serious legal details you must pay attention to and cope with.
First, use the tenants’ contact information from the lease to reach out to them. Call, email, and text message them. If there is still no response, call the emergency contact listed on their application – perhaps they can get a message to the tenant or let you know if maybe there is a family emergency.

Next, send a certified letter to your tenants with “forward address requested” – this way you might be able to obtain a forwarding address for them. (Ask your local postmaster for complete instructions.) 

Next property serve and post an abandonment notice.  Once you have complied with all of the legal requirements of the abandonment notice and you are ready to enter the home, be sure to knock loudly, announce who you are, and state that you are inspecting the property. Continue announcing who you are and why you are there as you move from room to room.

Take a camera with you to photograph any damages and document signs that the home has been abandoned. Verify if the power and other utilities are still on. Is there fresh food in the refrigerator or on kitchen shelves? If furnishings and personal items are missing, it’s a sure sign that your tenants have left.

Once you are sure that the property is abandoned, proceed with changing the locks so that you can take back possession of the property. Then move any of the tenants’ possessions to secure storage, and professionally clean the premises at the tenants’ expense. Now begins the long, and often expensive, process of recouping your losses from the tenants and finding new and hopefully better-qualified tenants to lease your property.

For your property to generate the greatest return on investment, it must have responsible tenants who pay their rent according to their lease and treat your property with respect. 

RPMWV Phoenix is the Phoenix leading property management business; we know how to determine quickly if Phoenix rental properties are abandoned and have the experience to evict deadbeat tenants.

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The Do’s & Don’ts of Tenant Screening

Tenant Screening of course is the most important aspect to being a Phoenix landlord. Right now the Phoenix rental market is pretty tight meaning that correctly priced Phoenix rental properties that show well will get a lot of interest from potential tenants.  This also means that as a landlord there is really no reason to settle for a less than desirable or higher risk tenant (unless your property looks crappy or is really overpriced in which case you have no choice in tenants).  

Here are 5 must Do’s for tenant screening:

1. Do insist on a full two years of residential history from your applicant with full landlord information & insist on two full years of employment information.
2. Do try to select an applicant who has residential payment history through a property management company so if can truly be verified.
3. Do verify private landlord information through the Maricopa county assessor’s office if you decide to work with applicants who have been renting through a private individual. You’ll be surprised at how often the names don’t match up.
4. Do carefully review collections and charge offs on credit and look up the name of the creditor online as you will be surprised at how many of them are actually apartment collections.
5. Do a check on the Maricopa county civil court records to look for previous or current evictions of the applicants.

Here are 5 must Don’ts for tenant screening:

1. Don’t ever just take an applicant’s word for anything as it most likely is not accurate.
2. Don’t ever move forward with an applicant who can’t show you in person their’s driver’s license or passport as there is a good chance there is some kind of fraud involved.
3. Don’t ever rent to someone who has been evicted even if it was a while ago – I know you want to believe that it won’t happen again but it will.
4. Don’t rent to co-signers. If the occupant isn’t responsible for the rent they also want be responsible for keeping the property up which means lots of damages for you the Landlord.
5. Don’t ever judge an applicant based on what they look or “seem” like instead let their actual information such as credit, previous housing history, employment history, income & criminal background speak for itself.

For more helpful tips check out our tenant screening podcast at our owner learning center  http://www.rpmphoenixvalley.com/property-learning-center.html.

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