What will my vacancy rent for?
The preferred method for renting a property takes a little common sense and a diligent effort to follow the formula to its conclusion. The steps are as follows:
- Using an objective Rent Survey (HomePointe does one each quarter) of properties currently on the market, determine the high and low rent in the neighborhood and the average. Place the property on the market at any price within that range. The higher the price selected over the average, the more likely the process will take longer to obtain a tenant. Putting the rent below the average and closer to the lowest rent, the quicker a suitable tenant will be located on average.
- Place ads in several Internet listing websites, and on any other vacancy list that you can. Put a sign up and have your vacancy list available at your office 24/7.
- Be available to either take calls live or provide a recording to provide complete information to prospects. Try to eliminate “phone tag” as prospects are often not available to call back.
- If you are not obtaining calls, appointments to show, or suitable qualified applications you will have to lower your price by approximately 5% after two to three weeks. Change all advertising and follow the same strategy. Lower the rent an additional 5% every two to three weeks until the property is obtaining qualified applications.
Continue this process until the property is at the bottom of high/low asking rent for the neighborhood. Recheck the high/low to make sure someone else has not further lowered their rent. If so, lower your rent to match or make it slightly lower than the lowest rent. It is a fact that neither the owner or the property manager determine the rental rate. The rental rate is determined by market demand. If you think your property is “different” or “better” than competing properties and you price it higher than those competing vacancies, you will soon find out if you are truly able to get more rent. If the market answers yes, that is great. If your property does not rent quickly, better follow our strategy.
How long will it take to rent my vacancy?
Our goal is to rent your property within 30 days. By following our pricing strategy (see the preceeding question) that should be achievable. An overpriced property may never rent. Your property manager is the best person to talk to about how to get the job done in 30 days. Talking your property manager into a higher rent to better cover your costs will probably result in a longer vacancy.
How do you screen for good residents?
We require a detailed application from each adult and photo identification. All applications are carefully screened for credit, rental and ownership references, and income. A credit check will reveal hidden addresses and pay history. If the credit history passes our requirements we will verify all addresses lived at and talk to the owner about those previous tenancies. Our access to tax records will allow us to verify ownership and a “Reverse” phone directory will allow us to determine who owns the telephone numbers that are provided. We will also verify employment and income levels. No applicant will be approved until all questions are answered to our satisfaction. In some cases we may lower the standards on a particular property in order to be realistic about getting the property rented in a reasonable time frame.
How is advertising handled?
We start the marketing process at the time we receive a 30-Day Notice from your resident or at the time we sign you up for management. Your property will appear on our vacancy list that is posted at all of our offices as well as on our website. We also put a sign on your property giving drive by rental prospects access to our 24 Hour Hotline Recording. Approximately 1 out of 4 prospects come to us from signage at the property. We will also advertise your property online through multiple rental databases. The cost for internet databases is much less than you would pay if you did it yourself as we pass much of the discounts we receive for annual contracts on to you. Most owners can budget to pay approximately $99.00 per month.
What should I do to my property to prepare it for a new resident?
After price, the most important controllable factor in renting a property is condition. The walls should be freshly painted (or appear freshly painted), carpets clean with no tears or loose areas, clean appliances, clean kitchen and bathrooms, and clean or new blinds. Finally, the yard should be in good condition in both front and back. We are happy to inspect the property for you to help get the most out of your renovation dollars. Our company is full service and can provide all vendors needed to get your property “rent ready” quickly and for a great price.
What length of lease do you recommend?
We normally recommend a six month lease to start. Understand that a lease benefits the resident more than it benefits the owner of the property. If the resident causes you problems or you want to move them out it is very difficult to get them out with a year lease. However, if the resident needs to move, they can do so no matter how long the lease and you will still have to re-rent the property. With a six month lease you have more bargaining power if the resident causes you problems in that you can tell them that the lease will not be renewed if the problems persist. After the initial six months, it would make sense to sign up a good resident for a year lease now that you know more about them. Some owners prefer a one year lease and we are happy to accommodate those requests
How is maintenance handled?
Residents are instructed to call, email, log into our website, or write to us with their repair requests. We will then compare the request to our history of maintenance on your property. We also keep on file your dollar limits for repairs as well as your contact information. Most callers need routine assistance and we are able to help them either by walking them through a simple procedure or by scheduling one of our technicians or vendors. Our company has made the extra effort to obtain a California General Contractors License (#773021) which operates as RAM Property Services. Both of these complimentary services allow us to quickly address most of your property’s needs without having to make a phone call to a 3rd party vendor. We are more efficient and we know that the proper licensing and insurance (worker’s compensation and liability) are in place at all times.
Who handles problems during the night, on weekends, and holidays?
Our 24 Hour Hotline will take the residents call and page our staff person. We will then talk with the resident to determine how to proceed. Many times we solve a problem over the phone or by simply calling one of our plumbers that we have access to 24 hours a day.
What are habitability requirements?
They are requirements that all owners of residential rental property must adhere to. They are enforceable by the local city or county building department. Failure to maintain your property to these standards may subject you to fines, lawsuits, or the shutting down of your rental. Here is the law: Civil Code §1941.1 A dwelling shall be deemed untenantable for purposes of Section 1941 if it substantially lacks any of the following affirmative standard characteristics: (a) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors. (b) Plumbing or gas facilities which conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order. (c) A water supply approved under applicable law, which is under the control of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running water, or a system which is under the control of the landlord, which produces hot and cold running water, furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law. (d) Heating facilities which conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order. (e) Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment which conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order. (f) Building, grounds and appurtenances at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin, and all areas under control of the landlord kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin. (g) An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and good repair at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, with the landlord providing appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter, and being responsible for the clean condition and good repair of such receptacles under his control. (h) Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.
What happens if the resident does not pay the rent?
If your resident does not pay rent as agreed we will make contact with them soon after the rent due date. Our due date is normally the 3rd of the month, but an existing lease may be later. If we cannot get a satisfactory answer we will make arrangements to serve a 3-Day Notice To Pay Rent or Quit. Once the three days pass we will submit the notice along with the existing rental agreement to a local attorney. This will start a process known as an unlawful detainer. It may include a court trail, but normally does not. The resident may move at any time, we may obtain a court order to move the tenant with the assistance of the local law enforcement, or we may obtain a stipulated judgment where the resident is ordered to pay back all monies owed, including future rents, or face an eviction without another judgment. You are responsible to pay for all legal costs.
What happens if the tenant bounces their rent check?
As soon as we determine a rent check has bounced we will process it and notify the resident that the rent is now owed along with a processing fee and a late fee. If necessary we will serve the tenants a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Most residents end up clearing the check but it may delay your statement and funds.
Can you help me if I already have a resident?
Yes. We may have to continue using your lease until it concludes, or we may be able to sign your current resident onto our lease. In cases where the resident is behind in their rent we can take the necessary steps to either get them to pay or evict if we cannot obtain payment. Many residents will suddenly find a way to pay the rent or move as soon as they hear that we are in place to follow through with all collection issues.
Who pays for repairs after a resident moves out?
After the move-out inspection, we will determine who is responsible to pay the bills to bring the property back to the condition it was in prior the resident moving in. You are allowed by law to charge the resident’s deposit for rent, damages above normal wear and tear, and cleaning. We will charge the resident for everything that they should be charged for. We will compare the move in condition (we do a written move in condition report and include digital photos) to the current condition (we take digital photos to verify our written report upon move out). We want you to know that we consider this an important time in the management cycle, and we will protect your interests. We can use the resident’s security deposit to pay for all or part of the bills. If the resident’s deposit does not cover the costs, then you will have to pay the balance. In that event, we will bill the resident and turn them over to collection if the amount due is not paid promptly.
What bills can you pay and when?
We can pay bills associated with your property including maintenance bills, utilities, taxes, insurance, and mortgages. We charge a small additional fee to pay mortgages. After the rents come in we pay mortgages and utilities first. Then we pay any other bills and begin sending owner proceeds checks.
Do you hold funds in reserve?
All accounts are required to maintain a reserve amount. This is to cover any charges or maintenance bills that might be incurred when we do not have rents to cover those costs. The amount is determined by mutual agreement and is normally $300.00 or more.
How can I get my statements online?
In addition to your emailed owner statements you can access your statements online at your convenience. You may view your monthly statements and reports through our owner portal. You can access the owner portal by clicking on this link: https://homepointe.appfolio.com/portal.
Who holds the residents security deposit?
We hold the resident’s security deposit in our trust account until it is paid back to the resident or used for rent, cleaning, or repairs upon their move out.
When do I get reports and when do you send me money each month?
All rents are due on the first and considered late if received after the 3rd of the month. Most owner checks are mailed on the 20th, but you can choose to have an early check and report sent to you for a small extra charge. In that case, we can send your check and report by the 10th. Since rent checks must clear the bank, it is not practical to send funds earlier than the 10th. We do offer the ability for you to obtain your statements with copies of available invoices paid online at our website. If you choose this method you will get a discounted management fee. We encourage all owners to receive their funds via ACH. This allows us to electronically send your funds directly to your bank from our bank. There is no extra charge for this service. If your funds are sent via ACH, we post your report to our website the same day. Note: Weekends and holidays can delay owner proceeds checks to the next business day
What liabilities do I have and how can I protect myself?
As the owner of the property you could be held liable for known and some unknown conditions at the property. In most cases your fire/liability insurance policy will cover you adequately. You should discuss with your insurance company the amount of recommended limits for your situation. Our management agreement with you, which is the same as most other management companies, has an indemnity clause that places basic liability for all acts on the owner. Insurance companies know this and most will willingly name the property manager as either additional insured or name the manager as an interested party to the policy at no extra cost. This is important to do as you want the insurance company to protect us both in the unlikely event of a lawsuit. In most cases, just acting with common sense and acting quickly will lessen the likelihood of a lawsuit.
Who actually handles my property and how do we communicate?
You will be assigned to an available property manager that knows the area that your property is located in. You may meet with them to sign up your account or by appointment at any time. You will get a letter from our office giving you the managers contact information including phone number and extension and email address. Email is the preferred method of contact with our office.
How often do you check on my property?
During a vacancy we normally show your property 2-3 times per week. While rented, we schedule your property for an annual inspection. This inspection is sometimes called a “leak check”, since we check for roof leaks, pipe leaks, and tub/shower leaks. We also photograph the property and we do provide you with a written report. This inspection normally takes 1-2 hours which includes setting up the appointment, the inspection, writing up the report, and sending it to you. We bill this inspection at our normal rate for maintenance. If you want additional inspections they can be arranged. We also suggest you have a “termite inspection” performed at least every two years to check for dryrot, leaks under the house or in the attic, and for infestations.
Why should I use your company vs. another?
Hopefully you can see that HomePointe is a great value for you and your property. From three offices we have more selection for renters that are easier to access, we are an industry leader in technology making us convenient for renters and owners alike. We are also totally dedicated to property management and maintenance so we are not distracted by the sales market.
How long do we sign an agreement for?
Our property management agreements start with a six month term and then become month to month. In some cases a longer term can be used by mutual agreement. Once the initial term is completed the agreement can be cancelled with 30 days notice.
Do you have any references?
We are happy to provide two references upon request. Once we receive your request we will contact two active clients to get their permission to have you contact them.
What does all this cost?
Costs vary depending upon the type of property you have. You can email us at management@HomePointe.com and our AUTO REPLY will email you our current rates. All rates are subject to negotiation based on location and number of properties in your portfolio. Our rates are competitive within the industry.
How Do I Get Started?
If you currently have a property manager that needs to be terminated:
- Check your current property management contract to see what type of notice is required. It is typical that you will be required to give a 30 day notice. If possible, call the manager to see if they will accept a shorter notice. Many will, especially if they know that you are unhappy. If you do not have a written contract, assume 30 days is required.
- Compose a brief letter as follows: “Please terminate your services on ______________ (property address), effective __________ (date). A representative of HomePointe Property Management will be in touch with you prior to the termination date to pick up keys and any pertinent files. Please send remaining funds in my account directly to me including tenant security deposits.
- Mail or email the letter and send a copy to HomePointe.
Everyone must do this:
- Sign and deliver a HomePointe Property Management Agreement and a HomePointe Owner Information Sheet to HomePointe at 5896 South Land Park Dr., Sacramento, CA 95822. You can also mail those documents to P.O. Box 221660, Sacramento, CA 95822 or fax them to 916-429-0389. Both of these documents are available in our Owner Services Section within this website.
- If you have a current resident please provide us the current rental agreement. If none is available let us know if you would like one to be completed and signed for the current resident.
- We need to know the current rent rate, deposit amount, and any amounts the resident owes.
- Provide us with keys if available.