Property Management Blog

It Really is a Small World

System - Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Property Management Blog On a recent trip to Ireland, Mike Hodges was determined to find time to explore the property management dynamics being experienced in Ireland. While in Galway, he stopped in to a property management office and had a chance to talk briefly with the broker there and it was enlightening to say the least.

This is what he learned and found somewhat surprising:

In a nutshell, they have experienced much of the same trends as we have: low inventory, high demand. Fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. Galway is a college centric rental environment so demand for rental is constant. They also have rent control in place for 2 years per lease. This was instituted to address affordable housing (contain cost/stabilize rents). Once those properties became available again, the rents have escalated exponentially. Additionally, what was traditionally rental housing is being purchased now as primary dwellings. 

Add to this the low to nonexistent new construction and they find themselves in the same soup as we are here in Florida and much of the US overall. This is what he learned in just one specific Irish market but does support the adage: it really is a small world. 

Moving doesn't have to be stressful

System - Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Property Management Blog

Moving can get you out of breath just thinking about it, and while it’s not always pleasurable there are ways tomake it stress-free with less anxiety.


Before you move
  • Immediately start making a list of everything that needs to be done from change of address, to lining up a mover, to organizing a yard sale. Keep this list up-to-date and make changes/additions as you think of them. In the long run, this will help keep unexpected events to a minimum. 
  • Once you find out that you are moving, take photos of the inside of your new home as well as doorways and the garage entrance. From those photos, make a rough sketch of where to place the furniture. This will help so you only have to move it once, then make minor adjustments. 
  • Look at those same photos to help plan how to get the furniture in the house in the easiest manner with little to no damage to walls, door jams and the furniture itself. Are there tight turns going through the front door that would make it difficult to bring in a sofa? Maybe it would be better to bring the sofa in through the garage. You get the idea.
  • Take photos of your important documents and belongings, then store them in the cloud or on a flash drive. Dropbox and Google Drive work perfectly for this. 
Moving day
  • Take photos of the back of your TV or sound system with your cellphone. When you get to your new home, this will make putting it back together much easier.
  • Make arrangements to have your small children stay with family or friends. 
  • Don't forget about  your pets! Either board them for the day or have them stay with family or friends. The stress of the move may be too much, so when the moving van is gone, you can introduce them to their new home.
  • If you are moving yourself, put the things you’ll need right away on the truck last. When you get to your new home, they’ll come off first.
  • Pack a box of items that you’ll need in the first 24 hours when you get to the new home. This might include things like medications, coffee maker, coffee and filters, snacks, and food for pets. 
After the dust settles
  • Gather all your receipts. There may be expenses that you can deduct on your taxes. Check with your CPA.
  • Keep a cleaning kit handy for quick wipe ups like fingerprints that can easily be removed. 
Finally, there will be a point that you will have move. If you plan well in advance, the worry and hassle of a move will be greatly reduced. For more tips, click here

Congratulations Tim!

System - Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Property Management Blog

Congratulations to Timothy Blanchard, a Florida REALTORS® member, who was recently awarded the Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation.  He  joins other top producers in the residential real estate industry who hold the designation across the nation.

Tim earned the “Graduate, REALTOR® Institute” (GRI) Designation by attending a minimum of 60 hours of classroom instruction, covering a variety of subjects including: contract law, professional standards, sales and marketing, finance, and risk reduction. 

In addition, he has learned the fundamentals of brokerage and other areas of real estate specialization. With this designation and through increased awareness of current topics important to the real estate professional, such as legal issues, these REALTORS® can better serve prospective clients and customers.

The GRI designation sets the individuals who have attained it, apart from other practitioners because it indicates to the public that the individual has obtained a professional educational foundation on which to base the services they provide and that they are a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. 

Obtaining the GRI designation is a beneficial way for a REALTOR® to advance their professional image. The extra measure of knowledge and prestige achieved by completing this course work is a tool that will advance a career in real estate on attracting and building new business.

The REALTOR® Institute has been in existence for more than twenty-five years and has graduated thousands of REALTORS®.

REALTORS or consumers interested in learning more about the program may visit www.Realtor.org/GRI.

We're in the thick of hurricane season - are you ready!

System - Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Property Management Blog

With the possibility of a hurricane approaching our area, it’s a great time to remember those important to-dos and purchase necessary supplies. It’s never too early to get ready.

The first step in being prepared is to stay informed.

  • Regularly, watch local news and check websites that pertain to hurricanes
  • tracking map is a good way to watch the current path, and to get your children involved
  • If you can involve your kids, it will take out the big fear if a storm does hit the area

Next, if a storm is imminent, you’ll need to decide whether or not evacuate:

  • You should plan for both options.
  • Take into consideration your situation, plus the strength of the storm.
  • Whatever decision you make, make it early.
  • In the case of evacuations, interstates could be turn into one-way roads, possibly not going in the direction that you planned. Prior to Hurricane Andrew hitting south Florida, all lanes of I-95 were turned north bound. 

Preparation of the outside of your home is ultra-important:

  • Cover your windows with plywood. The recommended plywood would be 5/8” thick, exterior grad or marine plywood, cut to the size of your window.
  • Don’t waste your time with tape. It has been proven that tape does not keep windows from breaking or glass from flying.
  • You may want to reinforce your garage doors.
  • Be sure to bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down. These items can become missiles in a storm.

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare or purchase supplies. Many big box stores run out of supplies and you could get caught in a situation where it’s unsafe to leave your home. Put together a supply kit that includes:

  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable food
  • One gallon of water per person per day for 3 days
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • For a complete list, click here 
  • Also for a list of supplies for various areas, check out this list 

Some often overlooked tasks include:

  • Gathering your important paper and putting them in waterproof containers
  • Get cash because if power is out, ATMs won’t work
  • Fill your car with fuel. Again, no electricity equals no fuel pumps working
  • Charge your communication devices like your phone or tablet
  • Also, do your laundry because you may be out of power for a while

Remember the pets!

  • You’ll need to have supplies on hand for your animals. Have an emergency supply kit for them as well.
  • If you do evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS! They may not survive, and if they do, you may not be able to find them after the storm.

For more information, check out these resources:


*National Weather Service Weather Safety 


*Ready.gov kids  


*Family Emergency Plan – Checklist

We do our best to keep maintenance costs down...here's how

System - Monday, July 11, 2016
Property Management Blog

No matter how marketable and well maintained your property rental may be, you are still going to need repairs from time to time. 


The national average, according to some surveying firms, shows that roughly $163 per month per unit is spent on maintenance items for single family homes nationwide, national average. 

At FPM Properties, our main goal is to protect your investment while pursuing cost containment.

We constantly vet prospective vendors in search of the best performance in areas of pricing, craftsmanship and timely response. We look at how they keep up with industry practices and trends, and make sure their licenses and insurance coverages are current. We also consider what kind of technology they are employing to be as responsive as possible. We require a vendor profile and agreement be submitted-- which outlines our expectations.

Our vendors are neither the least or most expensive, but they strive to deliver value and we have many who go above and beyond to serve the needs of our residents and owners.  As a result, we manage to keep our average month maintenance down to about $125 per month without sacrificing quality. 

We evaluate cost of repair versus cost of replacement for you and make recommendations after visiting the investment property. Also, by doing regular inspections, we usually can save you dollars by catching a problem early instead of allowing it to fester.

Remember FPM Properties when you are looking for a property manager. 

Why lease signings with your property management company are so important

System - Monday, June 27, 2016
Property Management Blog


When it comes to leases, at First Place Management we don’t mess around. All our leases are attorney drawn to be in complete compliance with all current laws. We want to make sure you completely understand what you are signing, for the protection of all parties. 

Here’s 5 areas that we discuss during this meeting.
  1. Responsibilities of the Resident and Landlord – Nothing is left to chance. We aim to educate you to the best of our ability to make sure you understand your responsibilities and are made aware of the obligations of the Landlord. 
  2. Maintenance requests and the process – Every business should have a system in place and we do. We have perfected the maintenance request process to give you the easiest and quickest service that we can.  If you experience a problem with your property, we want to be able to act fast to solve your issue. There are circumstances that arise requiring two estimates to be obtained for our Landlords. 
  3. Rent payments – We don’t assume that you know when the rent is due or when it will be considered late causing penalties. At First Place Management, we also want to make it simple to pay your rent, by offering online payments.  We will explain the entire process to you.
  4. Move in and move out process - To accurately record the condition of the property, whether it be prior to moving in, or when you are moving out, we video each room and electronically record any notations. Again, this protects you and the landlord.
  5. Unusual items associated with the rental – No home is alike and we want to make sure that you understand the details of the property you are renting. For instance, there may be appliances that are “as is,” meaning if they break they won’t be replaced. We would want you to know this up front so there are no surprises. 
First Place Management prides itself on transparency. We want both our Residents and Landlords to have the best experience possible. Simply said by explaining all the details at the lease signing, we can meet the expectations for all parties. Call First Place Management today at 904-246-1200! 

Is gray the new white?

System - Monday, May 30, 2016
Property Management Blog
When it comes to rentals, is gray the new white?

According to House Beautiful, gray is one of the top colors for 2016. But how does that translate to rentals? 

Gray, considered a neutral, can be paired effectively with almost any color to give the tenant a desired neutral backdrop to look classic and contemporary. While using institutional white is a constant reminder to tenants that they are renting, it seems to be the go-to color for landlords, simply because its neutral color will go with any décor. However, by adding a soft gray or even light blue, a feeling of luxury or sophistication is sensed.

In a Better Homes and Gardens color survey, 57% of those participating said their walls are neutral, while 43% claim to have a non-neutral paint scheme in their home. One reason 40% the participants say they keep the neutral palate is because they believe they’ll grow tired of a brighter color. Another 29% are fearful that it would just be too bold to use anything other than a variety of white. Of those that like bright colors, there were some considered off limits. The top color the respondents were least likely to use in their home is orange followed by black and violet. 

Once a color is determined, it seems that the respondents were apt to wait more than 5 years to repaint and most likely would change the color. 

As for rentals, gray seems to be a color that can hide minor blemishes and allowing tenants the feeling of a more permanent residence. 

As a landlord, if you just can’t bring yourself to paint anything other than white, consider an antique white. 


As an owner are you up to date on real estate laws?

System - Thursday, March 24, 2016
Property Management Blog

Having a property management company has many advantages. The most obvious being they hand the marketing and renting of the property, screening the tenants and overseeing the maintenance. One big point, most everyone misses, is the knowledge and continuous education required in handling such business matters.


One area that can get an uninformed manager in trouble, is the area of property management and real estate laws. 


Right now, there is bill working its way toward being a law, which deals with homeowner, cooperative and condominium association documents. This bill, known as CS/CS/CS/HB 203, Residential Properties, deals with the handling, delivery and time frames of estoppel certificates. 


Most laypeople don’t even know the definition of an estoppel certificate. An estoppel certificate is basically a legal document that tells the financial debt owed to an association (homeowners’, cooperative or condominium) by a parcel owner or unit owner. 


With most everyone using the internet to conduct business, if passed, the process to deliver an estoppel certificate is being update. Below, if you are interested, is the bill (in the terms it was written for passage):

•Provides for the ability to request and deliver estoppel certificates through electronic means;

•Reduces the period of time in which an association must respond to an estoppel certificate request; 

•Specifies the required content, effective periods, and approved delivery methods for estoppel certificates;

•Requires the designation of a person or entity for receipt of estoppel certificate requests; 

•Establishes fee caps for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate;

•Waives the right of an association to collect moneys owed in excess of the amount stated in an estoppel certificate from any person who in good faith relies on such certificate; and 

•Provides that cooperative associations are subject to the same requirements regarding the issuance of estoppel certificates as homeowner and condominium associations. 

At FPM Properties and First Place Management, we keep up with current laws; know our state congressmen, congresswomen and representatives; and regularly travel to Tallahassee to lobby and express our concerns in our industry.


Should you have questions regarding this bill or any other relating to property management or real estate laws, don’t hesitate to contact us!


Troubleshooting your HVAC

System - Sunday, February 7, 2016
Property Management Blog

 

Troubleshooting your HVAC 

  Often times, when an air conditioning system is not operating properly, or worse stops running altogether, there are things you can do before calling your HVAC service provider. Here are the most common problems and what you can potentially do to remedy the problem yourself.


  • The unit is not sufficiently hearing or cooling
*The possible cause could be dirty air filters. This is an easy fix – simply clean or replace the existing filters.
*If the air is not circulating freely, check the supply registers to make sure there is no obstruction.
*The outdoor coil could be blocked. Again, check for debris or foliage that could be hampering air flow.
  • The unit is just not operating
*Is the power to the unit off? Make sure the main switch is on.
*Is the circuit breaker tripped or is there a burned-out fuse? Reset the circuit breaker or replace the fuses.
  • The auxiliary heat display is on
*If the outdoor temperature has significantly fallen, this is normal. Just monitor the light and if it stays on continuously when above 30ºF or if it comes on when it’s 50ºF outdoors, it’s best to call for service.
  • The blower does not operate
*Check to make sure the blower door has not been removed or is open. Simply close the door to restore power to the blower.
  • Unusual noise
*In this case, don’t try to figure it out on your own. Call your HVAC provider. 

Air conditioning is nothing to be taken lightly!

System - Monday, January 25, 2016
Property Management Blog
Whether you’ve just acquired a new air conditioning unit or if you’ve had the same one for a while, proper maintenance is the key to longevity and comfort. Here’s four points to know:
  1. Filter replacement or cleaning – This is so easy to overlook, but by replacing or cleaning your filter, you can ensure that your unit is running efficiently. When your unit is running more, tend to the filters twice a month. During slower times, once a month is adequate. Mark on your calendar to remember this task.
  2. Outdoor coils - This is one of the biggest items to keep your unit running at peak performance is to make sure the air is freely flowing over the outdoor unit’s coil. Make sure the unit is free from debris, foliage, or anything that might restrict air flow. 
  3. Clean air ducts – In addition to allowing air to flow more freely throughout your home, the benefits of clean air ducts include: 

 

  • Less dust and bacteria in the air
  • Lower energy bills
  • Better indoor air quality
  • Less pet dander
  • Fresher smell throughout your home
 

     4. Routine maintenance – At least once a year, your unit should be serviced by a trained HVAC technician. In some          instances, doing the work yourself could void your warranty. Contact your HVAC provider for specials on regular maintenance. There are also opportunities for extended warranties by going through your HVAC service provider.



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All sales and leasing activities are conducted through FPM Properties, dba. & First Place Management, Inc. both are licensed Florida Real Estate Brokerages. ​



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