We are very excited and grateful at Newdigs to have been featured on WXXI’s Innovation Trail, which highlights the budding start up economy in their ‘Company Town’ series. Zack Seward sat down with Ben & Daniel at Newdigs HQ, and talked about Newdigs’ aspirations for the coming months and years. We can’t say enough how jazzed we are to be a part of this movement in our community towards starting businesses and identifying viable products to solve market problems.
We’d really like to hear back from Rochester (and the rest of NY) about your ideas and wishes for apartment search. We’re listening!
From the calendar of the Freedom First Real Estate Investor Association, be sure to check out this laid back summer session. August’s meeting is geared towards a less formal game night and a picnic format. Come and get a chance to meet other Rochester real estate investors and property managers. FFREIA is doing a great job of connecting property owners and providing education about professional management and investment strategies.
Date: Thursday August 11th, 2011
Where: Monroe Voiture, 933 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607 (get directions from Google Maps)
Time: Food starts at 6:30pm, Games begin at 7:30pm.
Topic: GAME NIGHT & PICNIC
We want to do something different for our August meeting…
Knowing that it can be too tempting not to take advantage of our summertime, we thought we’d lighten up things this month for our general meeting.
If you are one of the people who has been wanting to play the financial literacy board games Cash Flow and Millionaire Maker, this will be your chance. Each of these is a fun way to learn, or reinforce, business financial basics and get your mind engaged in an entrepreneurial investor mindset.
FFREIA’s Secretary/Treasurer Susan Holman has enough games to accomodate up to 30 players and needs to know how many to plan for.
And if playing games isn’t enough to get you there on a summer’s evening, FFREIA’s President Leon Griggs is cooking up a batch of his special ribs and needs to know how many to cook for.
You need to RSVP to Susan (email@example.com or 585-690-5056) by Sunday, August 7, 5pm.
Rochester NY appears to be riding on a wave of positive press this year. The July 28th article claiming Rochester as #9 of the ‘Top 10 Cities in America to Become a Landlord‘ is proof that this city is having quite a run. Most recently, Rochester has showed up as the ‘#1 best city in America for easy commuting‘ and the ‘#4 Most affordable city in America‘.
Rochester NY Skyline from Ford St Bridge
According to CNN Money, the study’s publisher, a combination of low home prices, interest rates near zero and climbing rents makes investment opportunities in Rochester quite unique. Rochester was spared from the huge collapse in housing prices, and this stability means home values are expected to increase over the next three years. Another contributing factor is that unemployment in Rochester hovers around 7 percent, a rate that is significantly lower than the national average.
Here’s the core stats that they looked at in the study:
Average home price (2011): $150,500
Projected home price (2014): $155,500
Gross rent (2011): $825
Projected gross rent (2014): $947
Lease Agreement from EZLandlordForms.com
Building a strong relationship with a new tenant and protecting your real estate investment is of paramount importance when crafting a lease agreement. There are a multitude of considerations at this juncture that are essential to understand. Brian Davis, Vice President of EzlandlordForms.com, is a seasoned landlord and top expert on landlord-tenant relationships. Here he offers his top tips for new landlords as a helpful tool for navigating lease creation and the ongoing considerations of managing a rental property.
1. Understand the Fair Housing Act and how it applies to your rental. When advertising for a new tenant, it is critical that landlords and property managers understand and comply with the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from using any of the following criteria when evaluating potential tenants: race, color, national heritage, religion, gender, disability, and familial status. While that may sound simple on the surface, consider that stating in a rental listing “perfect for a single professional” is a violation of the Act (bias against familial status). Advertising only in your church’s newsletter discriminates by religion. What landlords can and should use to evaluate potential tenants is financial data, credit histories, and other background data.
2. Know your tenant by thoroughly screening each prospective renter to avoid problems down the road. This can be accomplished by a few simple steps. First, conduct a professional credit check to learn an applicant’s credit history and if they have been fiscally responsible in the past. Bad credit can serve as a red flag and you may wish to avoid such tenants.
Next, ask for references from past landlords. However, be on notice that while references from prior landlords are worth a quick phone call, they aren’t particularly telling, because tenants can give fake names and numbers, and even if they don’t, the old landlord may well be painting a rosy picture of the tenant in order to get rid of them.
What a landlord should verify are the rental applicants’ credit, employment/income (and historical stability), criminal background, and eviction history. When landlords run these checks, not only can they determine the best rental applicant, but the landlord can defend against any discrimination lawsuits by producing hard data used to choose one rental applicant over another.
3. Build an airtight lease agreement by knowing the laws that apply in your state through a state-specific lease. Each state has slightly different laws that impact a landlord-tenant relationship. Accordingly, use a state-specific lease instead of a general lease to best protect your real estate investment. For example, California requires all lease agreements to include clauses mandated by Megan’s Law, and every state has different limits on security deposits, late fees, etc.
While not an exhaustive list, other elements a lease agreement should clearly define include: Who is responsible for paying the utilities, which appliances are included and who is responsible for maintaining them, whether the lease auto-renews and for what term, details surrounding fees and deposits, and whether is there an option to purchase – and if so what are the terms?
4. Understand the eviction process. Although many of us don’t wish to think about worse case scenarios, it is important to become familiar with the eviction process and be ready to start the process immediately when a tenant violates the lease. While the specific documents required are different in each state, all states involve the same general eviction process. The landlord or property manager must serve the defaulting tenant with a particular notice, wait a specified period of time, file in court, attend a court hearing, schedule a date for the actual eviction, and so on, and landlords are well advised to understand this process before actually having to go through it, because it is extremely expensive and takes far longer than most landlords anticipate.
5. Devise a Moving In and Moving Out procedure and be sure it is clearly defined. One helpful tool is a comprehensive walk-through checklist. This document will be used for the landlord/manager to walk through the rental unit with the tenant and document the condition of the unit upon move-in and move-out.
6. Offer performance incentives: While most lease agreements include a late fee, landlords can further incentivize timely rent by offering a reward for early rent payment, renewing for a longer term period, and/or any other behavior you want to encourage. Rewards can range from the simple, such as rent discounts, to the complex, such as point systems where tenants earn points and exchange them for rebates, gift cards, updates to the rental unit, etc.
7. Establish a relationship with at least two good contractors. Landlords and property managers need at the very least a licensed contractor who can handle large jobs, and an inexpensive handyman who can affordably fix minor issues. Don’t wait until your tenants’ heating system stops working in January, or the roof collapses, as the time lost in trying to find a contractor by that time will cost real money. Instead form these relationships before you actually need them, and then you will simply be able to make a phone call and have the problem resolved immediately.
8. Stay capitalized. One of the most serious problems small landlords face is lack of cash, as being a landlord involves unexpected expenses. These range from tenants suddenly ceasing to pay their rent, to unexpected repairs, to lawsuits, but the only predictable aspect to these unexpected expenses is that they will happen, and with some frequency. Set aside a hefty amount of cash specifically for rental expenses, and resist the temptation to use it for anything else.
About ezLandlordForms.com: ezLandlordForms.com is the premiere online destination for landlord information and legal forms. Since 2006, the site has served landlords across the United States with state-specific lease agreements, eviction notices and other essential forms to help landlords protect real estate investments and build strong relationships with tenants. If you wish to learn more about landlord-tenant tips, or how to build a strong lease agreement, please visit www.ezLandlordForms.com.
Updated! – we’ve put out a big code update. It fixes a majority of the issues on this list, and though there are a couple problems still nagging us (photo upload for listings!), a majority of things are working!
As you might’ve noticed, we’ve had a bit of a facelift at Newdigs.com. We’ve been hard at work trying to make the site better reflect a bit of our flair, and I think we’ve got it! That said, you’ll notice a lot of little snags, and a couple of really big ones. Here’s a not-so-conclusive list that I’ll be editing throughout the period of our update, until they’re all gone:
- Editing properties
/ listings is broken. This should be fixed this weekend.
The option to create an account has been removed, and won’t go back up until the listings thing is fixed.
Toggling advanced search options won’t modify your search results.
Flagging listings (for content, whether questionable or awesome) is broken.
Those are the big issues and they’ll be fixed as soon as we possibly can, from top to bottom. If you spot any other issues, please feel free to drop us a note using the little “chat” icon nestled on the right side of your page.
- Looking forward to hearing from you all!
We’re excited to participate in Imagine RIT, RIT’s festival of Innovation and Creativity, for the third year in a row! This year, we’ll be in the Gordon Field House with our peers at Venture Creations business incubator.
If you get to our booth quick enough, you’ll be able to get your hands on the first ever Newdigs Rochester Rental Market Guide! This is a very exclusive sneak preview of the guide, which won’t be seen by the rest of the city until Friday, May 13th, when our distributor drops them off to hundreds of area coffee shops, laundromats, and college campuses.
Please be sure to tweet to us (@newdigs) when you stop by our booth, so we can feel the love!