Posts Tagged ‘home’

Real Estate: Security Cameras Worth A Look?

November 8, 2014

14Nov08 - security camera

(Image Credit: Google Images – pixabay.com)

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EVEN AS THE VIBRANT COLORS OF AUTUMN BRIGHTEN OUR DAYS, THE DARKNESS OF LONGER NIGHTS presents a potentially problematic scenario for homeowners, tenants and property managers. For most it has relatively nothing to do with longer hours of lighting costing more since they plan on that happening and budget for it. In our case it is a reminder of what transpired at one of our client’s properties a few years ago.

While extended winter nights are no revelation to this part of the world, they may bring increased trepidation to those concerned about burglars and similar hooligans who are apt to operate under cover of night’s murkiness, which is a topic discussed in many other forums. For us autumn evokes memories of vandal misdeeds.

Our client owned a stately, well-maintained century old apartment house with carefully landscaped grounds, and as consultants to that property we were never aware of a graffiti problem. To our knowledge there was no such trouble in the neighborhood, or even in adjacent neighborhoods. Nonetheless, we learned that one autumn night the out-building walls and doors became billboards for such displays. Although the skill of the “artists” was quite good and their productions were not profane, their handiwork defaced the building and most definitely did not belong on the property. Nobody saw the vandals or knew who they were yet their “art” magically appeared on a regular basis. The owner seemed unable to stop the delivery of another wall mural by the latest aspiring Rembrant.

Our previous recommendations that a security camera system be inconspicuously installed had always been dismissed because the owner wanted to maintain an exterior environment representing the period in which the buildings were constructed. But the repeated instances of graffiti had the owner relent and, interestingly, the artwork ceased immediately — an occurrence that questioned whether the graffiti was an “inside” job (performed by one or more of the owner’s tenant household members or guests) or whether the vandals were super sensitive and savvy to security apparatus. It remains anyone’s guess as they were never caught or identified.

Though the vandals departed as abruptly as they entered the scene the owner was pleased just to have the problem resolved, which was the primary purpose for the camera system. However, the system brought other benefits to the owner as well. Tenants liked knowing the camera system was there, especially when walking to or from their vehicles after dark. And the system qualified the property for an insurance premium reduction.

Bottom line: If your property doesn’t have such a system, it certainly is worth a look.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

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Real Estate: A Renter’s Market?

October 18, 2014

buy house

(Image Credit: Google Images – flickr.com)

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RECENTLY OUR INVOLVEMENT IN REAL ESTATE MARKET DISCUSSIONS again witnessed the same persistent and lingering observation: Despite depressed prices, we hear a home sale in our area can be as rare as inheriting a rich uncle’s estate, which tends to contradict stories of a dwindling supply of houses to sell. Of course, sales may differ in various areas but sporadic and few sales appears to be the case in many locales, more or less.

While there are several efforts to identify the cause of slack sales, the one most curious to us is the sentiment that too many folks who otherwise would be likely potential purchasers now only seem interested in renting. Rent rather than buy? Why? Traditional thought usually gives home ownership a thumbs-up in terms of being a cornerstone for long-term financial benefit. Indeed,  many other positive aspects come with home ownership as well … for the homeowner and the community

So despite logic implying lower home prices should be spurring house purchases, not apartment rentals, for people who are looking for a home and can afford to buy. But this does not seem to be the case. Certainly negative local factors such as high property taxes, poor quality of schools, distant shopping and medical facilities all play a role.  Yet the apparent pervasiveness of the issue suggests one or more generalized causes for this circumstance, like the one we hear most frequently repeated: Lenders have become more demanding ― some may argue far more demanding ― in scrutinizing loan applications, resulting in too few approvals. In other words, loan application reviews are the polar opposite of those conducted less than ten years ago when mortgage qualification was far too easy.

To be sure, we’ve heard other theories and explanations too. Perhaps an uncertain economy produces would-be buyers who are overly cautious, which uncertainty and caution nudge them toward the transience and flexibility of renting. Or they may be extremely uncomfortable with the notion of committing to one of the biggest purchases of their lives until a nationally firm and reliable economic foothold is reestablished. Maybe they heard a horror story or two about rising costs for insurance, maintenance or property taxes. Could be they are too frightened to be tied to a mortgage and a property that could be difficult to sell in the current market, which inability to sell within a reasonable time is apt to prevent them from changing jobs or searching for one in another locale thereby reducing or eliminating their income. Then again, the lack luster economy might be pushing them to reevaluate all their financial priorities, spending habits and even lifestyle patterns, any of which just might point to a rental as a viable living arrangement that can be adjusted on relatively short notice as employment and/or other factors change.

Whatever actual perceptions or rationale exist in the market, we see housing moving with renters, not buyers. Although rentals certainly have a legitimate place in the housing arena, the need for the permanence of home ownership should not be taken lightly or shrugged off. Beyond financial considerations, home ownership has been shown to provide positive benefits for household members, a stakeholder interest in the neighborhood and a stabilizing factor to the overall community.

Consequently government and the private sector need to find cooperative methods to not only create and maintain sensible affordable housing opportunities, but also develop reasonable mortgage lending qualifications and review procedures.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: The Uninvited of Autumn

September 29, 2014

2014-09-28 - Raccoon on Roof

(Image Credit: Google Images – animals.y2u.co.uk)

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A SENSE OF ALARM WAKES YOU in the middle of a crisp autumn night. But the silence and darkness assure you it’s just the sleepy residue of a quickly evaporating dream. You roll into a more comfortable position but then snap to attention! In the wall near the ceiling is a sound barely a decibel or two above the imagination, something between light scratching and scurrying of tiny feet. Is it a mouse … or something else?

While nesting spots may be sought in spring, in our area many property managers see autumn as the season more likely to have us become potential involuntary hosts not only to mice but possibly bats, rats, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, reptiles or insects.

We know one case in which a pregnant squirrel apparently found a way to gnaw through an attic vent screen, turning the space into a nursery. Being undetected for a time, the eventual removal of the mother and offspring was no easy feat. Professionals spent two days locating, capturing then removing them and their lair. Their lengthy residency magnified health concerns as well as damage, which included excrement cleansing, nibbled wire repairs, insulation replacement, reinforcing chewed wood, fixing the attic vent screen as well as hunting for and removing any ticks, fleas and other vermin that were left behind. The work cost hundreds of dollars.

To save money affected folks often try ousting the invaders themselves, which could be a hazardous undertaking. Among other risks a scared or cornered animal may attack, possibly causing infection, disease or even rabies. When viewed this way, paying a professional may seem small compared to the consequences of one or more potential missteps when dealing with many-legged squatters.

What to do? Strive to prevent the problem in the first place. Though no strategy can always guarantee wild critters stay outdoors, some common deterrents are: In addition to using reliable wire screens on all vents (including clothes dryer vents) use them on all open windows and doors. Since a mouse can breach a quarter-inch crack, while a bat can penetrate a dime-sized opening and a raccoon can maneuver a four inch or smaller hole, patch all exterior cracks and unnecessary openings.

Two publications add several other suggestions. From Popular Mechanics: Keep plants, piles of wood and other items at least two feet from the house; trim vegetation; and plug gaps around wires and pipes. Per the New York Times: Secure the chimney; stack firewood at least two feet off the ground; trim tree branches extending over the roof; remove outside pet food or water; and never separate a nursing animal from its offspring as she will not stop trying to reach them.

The bottom line: Don’t delay if you suspect critters invaded the building. Some may be seem cute but they too can be dangerous. Moreover, the problem intensifies the longer they remain. Retaining qualified professionals seems the better method to handle the matter.

Beyond our own experiences the following articles are referenced and were used to assist with this article. Check them out for more complete and detailed information on this subject.

 

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Property Management: NY Sprinkler System Notices

September 18, 2014

2014-09-09 - Fire in Home

(Image Credit: Google Images – pixabay.com)

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A PROPERTY MANAGER MUST CONSTANTLY LOOKOUT for various obvious factors that may affect a rental property, particularly those that may lead to menacing or disastrous events, such as fire hazards and regulations that affect those situations.

In the realm of residential and multi-family properties there are a number of worrisome situations that can be nightmarish ― but a structure succumbing to flames can be one of the more frightening. Beyond losing a home, which is certainly bad enough, a resident frequently must deal with the loss of irreplaceable family pictures and sentimental personal items. Worse, for the resident and manager alike, are the injuries and lives lost in house fires. The collective result can be significant tolls on all those affected.

In 2012 alone there were about 364,500 residential fires that caused more than $6.5 billion in losses. And during the ten-year period of 2001 – 2010 house fires claimed an average of 3,843 lives each of those years. In other words, for every single day in that ten-year period a rough average of eleven people died in a house fire!

What is being done? Since a property manager physically is unable to monitor fire safety in each dwelling at all times, management’s plan to lessen damage and injury usually involves other doable measures that are in addition to upgrades, repairs, maintenance and regulation compliance. Such actions typically include but are not limited to improved fire-retardant construction techniques where and when possible, clearly marked alternative escape routes, functional fire/ smoke detectors, operational fire extinguishers and heightened resident awareness.

To be sure, those said procedures are often mandated in various jurisdictions. Over the years they have become more well-known and as a practical matter they should be in use (contact your local fire department for tips and advice about fire safety and applicable laws). Such strategies appear to have led to a 21% reduction in the number of house fire related deaths. But in regard to residence fires, and perhaps less well known, is a soon to be effective newly enacted amendment to existing New York State law of which we became aware several weeks ago.

In essence the amended law seeks to require a more informed renter decision about a leased premises he/ she intends to occupy. After its effective date residential leases need to contain a bold-faced notice advising potential renters whether the premises being considered has or does not have a “maintained and operative sprinkler system” as such a fire sprinkler system is defined in section 155-a of New York State executive law.  Reportedly the amendment will be known as section 231-a of the New York State real property law and is expected to become effective on or about December 3, 2014.

The bottom line: If your residential rental property lies within New York State you should contact your attorney to learn how the amended law may apply to you and, if it does, inquire how your leases may need to be revised.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Affordable Housing: What’s the Big Deal?

September 11, 2014

14Sep08 New Pix

(Image Credit: Google Images – geography.org.uk)

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DESPITE THE EFFORTS OF VARIOUS ARMS OF GOVERNMENT as well as an assortment of nonprofit and other groups to enlighten the public about affordable housing (also known as worker class housing, among other terms), some folks think they know what it is. But a municipal meeting we attended shows too many still don’t truly understand it or recognize the importance of its role. Mention it in an open forum, as happened at that meeting, and you may be confronted with mutterings of stereotypical misperceptions that affordable housing is just another name for absentee landlords, rundown tenements and slums.

Naturally, undesirable outcomes are possible. Yet they are possible in virtually any developed district. Should economic reversals, infrastructure deterioration and/or other troublesome conditions arise they are apt to detrimentally transform the value and character of any affected area … be it a commercial or industrial zone, worker class housing or an upscale neighborhood.

For this reason jumping to a conclusion that affordable housing is synonymous with rundown residences would be neither an accurate nor complete picture since many of those projects are attractive and properly maintained. Moreover, in some situations competent professional property management may be able to prevent or reverse the effects of harmful events when they are internal to the affordable facility, and it might be capable of slowing the effects of those that are external to the facility, such as the loss of major regional employers.

So if its not necessarily crumbling housing, what is affordable or worker class housing? While various groups and agencies may have differing spins on the definition, in general we see it as any type of legal and decent housing structure or dwelling that is an affordable option for a household earning no more than eighty percent (80%) of the median income for the area (often called “area median income” or “AMI”). Interestingly, as income disparities seem to widen, some entities appear to be giving more attention to housing opportunities for low income households earning no more than fifty percent (50%) AMI.

To be sure, our definition is likely no big surprise. But what may astonish many is the importance of affordable housing as an influential ingredient in the economic mix of a viable community. Not only does it provide housing opportunities to lower income workers, it also has been shown to encourage economic growth. Furthermore, the possibilities of affordable home purchases aid in the increase of the overall home ownership rate, which can, in turn, provide noteworthy benefits for the community, an often overlooked element in the discourse on home ownership.

The bottom line is affordable housing opportunities, particularly affordable home ownership, help produce stable communities; a belief we have consistently held for properly operated and maintained affordable home projects. And from our viewpoint, that is a big deal.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding this or other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

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Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.

Real Estate: Is The Fix-Up Worth It?

April 20, 2014

 Addition Renovation

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BOTH THE FAMILY HOME AND YARD ARE TOO BIG for the two of you. With the children grown and on their own you want to sell then buy a home with real estate that is smaller, easier and less costly to maintain. And now that you’ve decided to sell you also want a fair price and a speedy transaction. Are there things you can do to make that happen?

Of course, if you have time to wait, the money to spend and limitless energy there are a myriad of things you can do to create excitement, sizzle and glitter for the house. Perhaps a recreation room, gym or other amenity could be constructed, or a swimming pool or ice skating rink installed in the backyard. But for many the prospect of lengthy periods of time, hefty expenditures and exhausting effort to prepare a home for sale are problematic, to say the least. Moreover, costly improvements not only may be unnecessary, they may not sufficiently raise the value of the home to justify the expense or the time to complete them.

So what can be done to improve the chance of a quick sale, if anything? Assuming the home and yard are not in need of major repairs (such as leaking roof, structural damage from uneven settling, collapsed cesspool, etc.), are in mostly presentable condition and other things are equal, having tasks performed that generate a comfortably neat home and yard appearance should suffice. For example: Cleaning, painting and sprucing up the home’s interior and exterior; the lawn seeded/ mowed/ edged; bushes/ trees trimmed and pruned; and flower beds weeded. Such undertakings are often minimal cost items that should aid in producing an attractive first image for your home.

Still, an older home that has been maintained in good condition with serviceable though passé appliances, out of style cabinets/ wallpaper/ carpets and/or similar detractions may meet with buyer resistance. In such a situation a negotiated mutually agreeable price adjustment could be the equalizing factor that helps develop the sale. However, markets for real estate and houses differ. In some locales price may be less important than pizzazz. Elsewhere the yard size, number of bedrooms or other factors/ elements/ issues may affect a sale. For these reasons a qualified and reliable real estate agent familiar with your area should be considered to assist you through the process.

Nonetheless, in many neighborhoods an attractively maintained home in good condition selling at a fair price is usually viewed as being in a great position to be placed on the market.

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Need consulting, coaching or problem troubleshooting regarding other single-family or multi-family housing issues? We’ll be pleased to help you. Visit us at the Inhouse Corporation website or contact us at inhouseco@aol.com

***************************

Blog Terms of Use and Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness and general discussion of the presented topic. Use of this blog shall be the reader’s agreement this blog is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified professional and each action that may be taken shall be under the specific guidance and oversight and/or performance of a professional qualified in the subject matter. If you have a question or want assistance with a featured or related matter please contact us at InhouseCo@aol.com (include the blog article title on the subject line). Links, references and credits in this blog are for convenience only and are not endorsements by the author or Inhouse Corporation. Statements and/or opinions of guest authors may or may not reflect those of Inhouse Corporation.