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what to do when your tenant stops paying

What to Do When a Tenant Stops Paying Rent or Wants to Break Their Lease

By | Property Management

As a landlord, you can do everything in your power to make a situation agreeable for a tenant, but the unfortunate reality is that sooner or later, you may find yourself facing a tenant who has stopped paying rent for some reason, or who is asking to get out of their lease early. Both of these situations are problematic for a variety of reasons, and the eviction process can be a nightmare for everyone involved, so it’s best to try and resolve problems if you can. If you can’t come to a compromise that works for everyone, though, you do have rights as the landlord. If you’re dealing with unpaid rent or an unhappy tenant who wants to leave before their lease is up, we’re here with some helpful advice.

What to Do When Your Tenant Stops Paying

It can be disheartening if, after all of your screening processes, you wind up with a tenant who stops turning in rent checks. Of course, a day or two late is understandable—we’re all human, after all—but when weeks or even months drag on with no payment coming your way, it’s time to take action.

Most tenants will be open to having a conversation about why they aren’t paying on time. Perhaps they were hit with an unexpected medical emergency and the accompanying bills, or they got into a car accident and have had to cover those expenses. Maybe they lost their job or are going through a divorce. There is usually a reason that people stop paying rent—most tenants aren’t simply neglecting their responsibilities and going out partying every night.

However, whatever the reason, the bottom line is that your bottom line is suffering. Have a sit down talk with your tenant and find out what’s really going on. Once you’ve heard their side of the story, you can make a decision about what to do.

 

Should You Evict or Negotiate?

Eviction processes can be complicated, expensive, and drawn out. If you haven’t been through the process before, you’ll want to be aware of what you’re getting into before you start down that road.

The Eviction Process in Chicago

If you decide to evict a tenant for non-payment, you must first notify them that you plan on starting the eviction process if they do not pay within a certain amount of days. If they don’t pay, you can then begin the eviction process. Eviction lawsuits must be filed in the same county that the property is located in. Once you do, the tenant will then receive a court summons and a court date. If they intend to fight the eviction, they will have to appear. If they appear in court, they’ll have to detail why they are fighting the eviction. There are a number of reasons that a tenant can fight their eviction, and if the case is over unpaid rent, they may choose to bring up issues of damage or lack of maintenance as a reason for the nonpayment—you will want to have any communications between the tenant and yourself on hand to prove that lack of maintenance is not the issue.

Due to the length of time that these proceedings can take—anywhere from five weeks to three months, assuming there are no delays—many landlords choose alternative methods for dealing with nonpayment. The most common alternative is negotiating with the tenant to figure out a smoother transition.

Common Negotiation Options  

Instead of evicting tenants, some landlords choose to work out a solution that involves paying the tenant to move out so that the apartment can be re-leased sooner. Often, the reason a tenant isn’t paying and won’t vacate is because they can’t afford movers. While it’s understandable to sympathize with this plight, the reality is you aren’t obligated to provide charity to non-paying tenants. If you’d prefer avoiding a court case and want the unit vacated, you can consider working out a deal to pay for the tenant’s moving fees so that they can leave sooner. This is sometimes the best case scenario—while you are paying a tenant to leave, a flat fee can work out to be less expensive than taking them to court and evicting them over months of unpaid rent.

You can also work out a payment plan if the tenant thinks they can get back on track relatively soon—whether you want to explore this option has to do with the reliability of the tenant and whether you can trust that they will actually catch up, and how they can prove to you that they can be trusted—documentation of a new job, for instance. This can be a risky choice, because if they turn out to be untrustworthy, you’re back at square one with unpaid rent and a tenant who needs to go.

Talk with your property management company about the best option for what to do when your tenant stops paying. They likely have a lot of experience dealing with all kinds of tenants, and will be able to offer you sound, realistic advice based on the specifics of your property and the current rental market.

 

What About a Tenant Who Wants to Break Their Lease?

Another issue that you may have to deal with as a landlord is a tenant who wants to leave before their lease is up. Breaking a lease is generally unadvisable for tenants, but from time to time, someone may have a legitimate reason that they need to leave: job relocation, family emergency, loss of income, etc. Other times, tenants simply want out of their responsibility– perhaps they want to move in with a significant other, or maybe they don’t like their roommates, but whatever the case may be, you need to find a way to deal with their dissatisfaction.

As a landlord, it’s in your best interest to try and come to a compromise on the tenant’s requests; resistance may lead to them stopping paying rent, and then you have to deal with that, in addition to an unhappy tenant.

If a tenant leaves, you are not allowed to simply do nothing, wait out their lease, then sue them for the months they weren’t there/were not paying. You are obligated by law to try and fill the vacancy in a timely manner. Even if you have a full plate of other responsibilities, you have to start showing the unit as soon as possible. You can charge costs of advertising the unit to the tenant breaking the lease, but thankfully, you aren’t required to list it at a below-market price just to fill the vacancy faster.

Whatever reason the tenant gives for wanting out of their lease, it is often easier to try and work with them to get the situation resolved sooner, rather than argue with them and force them to stay or sue them for unpaid rent.

If the tenant who wants to break the lease is not the only person on the lease, it should be reiterated to the remaining roommates that they are still responsible for the total amount of the rent payment. Recouping unpaid rent from a departed tenant will usually involve suing the tenant, and your leases should have a clause that informs roommates of the potential of having to cover the total cost of the rent in case someone leaves. The remaining tenants may not know that they will be held responsible if one person leaves, and that can cause a domino effect of more unpaid rent. In other words, it’s best to communicate with everyone what the terms of their lease are, even in the event of one person breaking the lease.  Try and get the departing tenant to find a sublet, but if they can’t, and you let them out of the lease, it’s up to you to fill the vacancy.

 

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

If all of this information makes you stressed out just reading it, that’s fair—dealing with unpaid rent, unhappy tenants, and broken leases can be nightmarish. Property management companies know that these issues pop up from time to time, and due to the volume of their businesses, have often dealt with these situations at least once or twice. They can help you track down tenants who aren’t paying on time (or at all), and they’ll be able to help you re-list vacant units, screen tenants, and take care of everything related to possible legal battles.

Here at Lofty, we want everyone who owns investment property to enjoy doing so, and we help facilitate that by managing every aspect of your property’s needs. We handle the difficult situations as well as the everyday minutiae of being a landlord, so that you can live the life you deserve.

Contact us anytime to learn more about how property management can make your life easier.

Speak with Lofty’s expert and managing broker Anthony Zammitt.

 

where and how to store security deposits

Everything You Need to Know About Security Deposits

By | Leasing, Property Management

You bought investment property, fixed it up to be market ready, posted an ad, screened tenants, and now you’re ready to sign a tenant to a lease. Congratulations! Now that you’ve got almost everything sorted out, it’s time to collect the security deposit from your prospective renter. If you haven’t gotten everything in line for your security deposits, though, it’s not too late. Not sure where to start? Follow this guide to learn everything you need to know about security deposits, from how much to charge to how to return them (or keep them) and everything in between.

How Much Should You Charge?

Unfurnished apartments in Chicago—as well as in most other cities and states—have a set limit for security deposits that cannot exceed the equivalent of two months’ rent (for furnished apartments, the limit is three times’ the monthly rent). For instance, if the rent is $1,500 per month, your security deposit cannot exceed $3,000; the payment due upon move-in would be the first month’s rent plus the security deposit. So, how much should you charge?

It’s advisable to charge around the equivalent to one month’s rent as the security deposit. This amount can cover a reasonable amount of damage should you need to do any repairs once the tenant moves out, and it can also discourage and weed out tenants who may be stretching their budget and savings to live in your property. One month’s rent is usually a manageable amount for most tenants, and it’s a very common amount for landlords to charge, so there won’t be any “sticker shock” with that rate. If you’re worried about turning some tenants off by charging a security deposit, you can consider charging a non-refundable fee instead. This is becoming more and more common, and it’s up to you to decide which is the best option for your properties.

When you receive a deposit from a tenant, be sure to issue a receipt including the date of payment, and keep a copy for your own records. When dealing with investment properties, the best thing you can do is keep detailed records and accurate books.

Where and How to Store Security Deposits

In most states, it’s required by law to keep your security deposits in separate bank accounts. Even if it’s not required by law where your properties are, it’s a good idea to keep deposits separate for a number of reasons:

  • They’re easier to keep track of when they’re not sharing an account with standard rent income.
  • It’s easier to manage interest earned; some states allow landlords to keep accrued interest on security deposits, while other states require anything earned plus the initial deposit back to the tenant at the end of the lease. In separate accounts, it’s far easier to track how much interest is earned on a deposit. Maintaining separate bank accounts for each property you own is advisable for optimal organization. You can have a master rental operations checking account, but security deposits for each property should be kept in separate, individual accounts (ideally also checking accounts, so that you can quickly pay them back or use them for repairs at the end of the lease).
  • It prevents accidentally spending the security deposit on maintenance or other expenses. If you do this and find yourself lacking the deposit at the end of the lease, this can be big trouble. That leads us to the next point–what you can use the deposit for.

What Can You Use the Security Deposit For?

Trick question! You can’t use the security deposit for any of your expenses, and it can only be used to cover the tenant’s last month of rent if you agree to those terms. Otherwise, it has to stay in its account, untouched, until the lease is up. Then, you can decide whether to give back the entire deposit, keep a portion of it for repairs, or keep the entire deposit (for major repairs, unpaid rent, etc.).

What to Do If You Sell the Property While Tenants’ Leases Are Still Active

There may come a time when you want to sell your property while existing leases are still in effect. In this event, you have two options: you can return the security deposit to the tenant at the time of sale, or you can transfer it to the new owner. You can’t keep the deposit (you’d think this would be common knowledge, but it’s always good to cover all the bases!). If, for whatever reason, an owner does walk off with the deposits when selling the property, the new owner cannot demand a second deposit from the tenants—the new owner will have to come up with that money on their own. But we don’t need to worry about that, do we? You know you can’t keep the deposit. Let’s move on!

The Lease Is Up: Now What?

When your tenant’s lease is up, there’s a set time frame you have to return the deposit. Since you kept the deposit in it’s own account (you kept the deposit in it’s own account, right?) returning it or keeping it is a pretty easy endeavor. If you’re returning the entire deposit (the tenant screening process worked!), you simply write your tenant a check for the whole amount (plus the interest, if applicable), along with a receipt, and you’re all done. This should be done within 14 to 60 days of the tenant’s moving out, but check your state’s laws on when security deposits need to be returned to be safe. Be sure to date the receipt—a simple mistake of omitting the date can cause a lot of problems, and can cost you money if a tenant later claims you didn’t pay their deposit back. Without a date on the receipt, you don’t have adequate proof of giving the deposit back, so we can’t stress it enough—you need to date the receipt.

If you’re keeping any of the deposit, it’s best to give your tenant an itemized list of charges as well as a receipt for the amount issued. You can’t keep any of the deposit to cover normal wear and tear, but you can keep part of the deposit for repairs or extensive cleaning.  

If you’re keeping the entire deposit, it’s beneficial to notify the tenant as such as well as provide them with an itemized list of expenses that were covered with the deposit. All of this paperwork should be dated, and it’s important to notify the tenant of this in a timely manner. Sometimes, tenants will try to fight your keeping of the deposit, and that’s where detailed documentation of the apartment’s condition upon move-in and move-out as well as any repairs or maintenance done will come in handy. You can fight the tenant for what’s rightly yours, and provided your reasons for keeping the deposit are reasonable, you’ll be ready to re-rent the apartment in no time.

 

You Don’t Have to Do Everything On Your Own

An important note about all of this is that when it comes to managing security deposits or any other part of the property ownership or landlord responsibilities, you don’t have to do everything by yourself. In fact, if you are doing everything yourself, it can be easy to miss certain details or get so bogged down by busywork that you aren’t able to do what you really want to be doing. You didn’t get involved with investment properties so that you could screen tenants and deal with writing up maintenance checklists after leases end—you got into investment property to, naturally, see a return on that investment.

Here at Lofty, we understand that your time is valuable, and we think you should be enjoying owning investment property, not spending all your time dealing with leases, security deposits, and other paperwork. We work hard to make sure our clients and landlords have an easy time with their investment properties, and we do so by taking care of every aspect of property management, from advertising your apartments in Chicago to screening tenants, scheduling maintenance and repairs, collecting rent and distributing security deposits, and so much more. With the help of a property management company, you can spend your time how you want to spend it—not doing work for your properties.

To learn more about how Lofty can help you start living the life you deserve, contact Lofty’s managing broker Anthony Zammitt to chat!

when to clean dryer vents

What You Need to Know About Duct & Dryer Vent Care in Your Properties

By | Property Management

When you own investment properties, making sure you schedule regular maintenance can save you a lot of hassle from having to do costly emergency repairs. If you’re a first time landlord or just want to know more about how to best maintain your properties’ ducts and dryer vents, this is the guide for you. Learning about what you can expect, how often maintenance is required, and how much you’ll be paying for duct and dryer vent services can ensure that your properties stay in tip top shape for the duration of your ownership.

What Kind of Maintenance is Required?

Dryer vents and ducts need to be kept clean in order to ensure that your properties are safe. Dryer vents can become clogged over time, and in order to prevent house fires, you’ll need to make sure they’re not blocked. Ducts should also be cleaned to improve the air quality in your properties. Dust, mold, and other contaminants can build up in ducts and may cause health problems for you or your tenants. As a landlord, you’re responsible for providing a safe and healthy environment for your tenants, and duct and dryer vent cleanings need to be a part of your maintenance checklist.

How Often Do You Have to Do It?

Dryer vents should be cleaned about once a year, though you can schedule regular checks for blockages every six months to be extra careful. As for duct cleanings, those can be done less frequently. Duct cleaning is suggested every three to five years, but that time frame may vary depending on what part of the country your property is in, how often the heating and cooling system is used, or if anyone living in the space has health problems related to air quality.

How can you tell when it’s time to schedule a cleaning? Contact your property management company and have them schedule duct cleaning services if any of these apply to your situation:

  • You suspect mold is in the ducts.
  • You can see visible puffs of dust leave the air vents when the system is turned on.
  • If there is/was a pest infestation in the property (such as before you took ownership).
  • Your air filters are heavily coated with dust when you replace them—this can be a sign you’re overdue for a cleaning.
  • You’ve done heavy renovations in a property. Drywall dust and other contaminants can build up in the ducts during construction, and prior to tenant move-in, the ducts should be cleaned.
  • There are a lot of pets in the building. Ducts will need more frequent cleaning if there is pet hair and dander in them.

 

How Much Will It Cost?

Cleaning your dryer vents generally runs from $60-$150, depending on who you work with. Duct cleanings can be more costly, depending on the size of the property and how much work needs to be done. In order to get the best deal, be sure that the company you choose for the service offers full service cleaning, which should include a full cleaning of the heating and cooling unit. Get written estimates by a few HVAC cleaning companies—reputable companies should provide a free inspection and estimate. Don’t fall for “all-inclusive” deals that are extremely low-cost, because they can be very cursory jobs that will just have you calling another company to do the work the first company missed. High quality duct and dryer vent cleaning can take a few hours and may involve sophisticated equipment—not just a half an hour with a Shop-Vac. If you’re not sure how to find the most reputable HVAC and duct cleaner in Chicago, your property management company can help. They should have a list of qualified, reliable contractors that you can trust.

What Happens If You Don’t Do It?

Dryer vent fires are a very real threat if you don’t do routine cleanings. According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryers were the cause of more than 15,500 home fires in 2010, so taking the chance simply isn’t worth it. Less serious issues can include longer dry cycles (which range from being merely inconvenient to downright problematic, if your tenants threaten to withhold rent until maintenance is performed), or a clogged vent system. If the vent system is clogged and not exhausting properly, it can wear out your appliances much faster due to the higher heat. Wait too long and you may need to completely replace the vent system, which can be a costly procedure—you’ll be wishing you had paid those smaller fees to clean the vents!

Neglecting duct cleaning can also lead to dust and other contaminants building up over time. Beyond improving the quality of the air in your properties, cleaning the ducts will help improve the efficiency of the building’s heating and cooling units. When it comes to winter property maintenance and ensuring your tenants stay safe and warm through the cold spells, duct cleaning can play a big part.

Want to know more about duct cleaning and dryer vent maintenance? At Lofty, we’re committed to helping landlords and property owners live the life they deserve to be living, and that includes helping you take care of building maintenance and repairs. Contact us anytime and let us take some of the responsibility off your hands, so that you can spend your time doing things you want to be doing.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

how property management companies can help you

Landlord Responsibilities Between Tenant Occupancies in Chicago

By | Property Management

When you’re a landlord and have regular turnover in your units, the work that you need to get done between occupancies can start to feel like it’s taking up all of your time—partially because if you have enough properties, it actually is taking up all of your time. Tenant turnover procedures and responsibilities can take up a lot of time, but another reason you may feel like you’re running around all over the place can be chalked up to doing tasks that are unnecessary. In order to ensure you’re making the most of your time, you need to be aware of what’s truly required of you as a landlord or property owner when one tenant moves out. Finding out what your responsibilities are between tenant occupancies can not only save you a lot of time, but it can save you some money, too.

Don’t Expect Your Tenants to Leave the Place Move-In Ready

The first step with this process is to go into the situation with reasonable and realistic expectations. In other words, while in a perfect world all of your tenants would patch holes in walls, scrub the floors til they’re sparkling, and do everything else necessary to bring the apartment back to life, that will almost never be the case. Tenants can generally be expected to clean the apartment before they move out, but they’ll be busy focusing on getting their moving plans and their new apartment in order, not making sure that their old place is in perfect condition and prepped for new tenants. Keep in mind that the responsibility for making the apartment ready for your next tenant will largely fall on you and your property management company.

 

What Needs to Be Done Between Tenant Occupancies?

Think about what you would expect an apartment to look like when you moved into it for the first time—that can be a starting guideline to knowing what you need to do for your tenants. For instance, if the paint and walls are dirty, scuffed, or scratched, you need to repaint them so that the apartment looks its best. Your new tenants are paying to live in a comfortable, habitable space, so it’s up to you to make sure their new home is livable and inviting.

Appearance, Security, and Safety of Chicago Rentals

Beyond aesthetic work like repainting, you need to make sure your new tenant is aware that they need to set up the utilities in their own name. This is usually outlined in tenant leases, but it can’t hurt to remind new occupants of that responsibility.

You’ll also need to rekey the locks for the apartment. This is a security measure that will prevent former tenants from having access to the unit, and thus, it keeps your new tenants optimally safe. Be sure to get the keys back from the old tenant, as well. Even with rekeying individual units, many buildings have master keys for the main entryway doors that may not be rekeyed every time someone moves. If a tenant doesn’t return keys, you may want to charge a fee to cover costs (and, when this is noted in the lease, it can incentivize them to return the keys!). If the tenant still doesn’t return keys, you’ll have to rekey everything their set had access to and take the costs from their security deposit.

You’ll want to do a walk through before you schedule any maintenance, so that you can make note of any repairs or other damages you’ll need to take out of the departing tenant’s security deposit (if there is one). Take photos of the unit and any damages and write down detailed descriptions of what was left for you to take care of. Having a detailed list of what you’ll be retaining a portion of the deposit for can help you down the road, particularly if the tenant fights you on the withholding of any or all of the deposit.

However, it’s best to do this walk through without the departing tenant there—their presence can not only put a lot of pressure on you to give them answers about their deposit on the spot, but they can also mask problems that won’t show up until a few days later, like stains that have been scrubbed from the carpet, only to reappear when the cleaner dries, or lingering pet odors.

Make sure that everything is still in proper working order before a new tenant comes in. Check that the shower, toilet, and sink in the bathroom all function as they should, that the refrigerator and freezer are still working, and that electrical appliances and lights in the unit are still safe—there should not be any loose wires or broken bulbs when a new tenant moves in. You may not be required by law to provide new tenants with working light bulbs, but that small cost can be a good start to the tenant-landlord relationship, and should be considered.

Once all of these tasks have been taken care of, it’s advisable to bring in a cleaning crew for a deep cleaning of the unit. A professional cleaning company will make the place move-in ready, something that your new tenants will appreciate.

As far as painting, unless the paint is peeling or overly damaged, you may not be required to paint. Many landlords allow their tenants to paint for them, provided they repaint it back to a neutral shade upon move-out. It’s up to you how you want to manage painting. Some landlords dislike the prospect and work involved in painting, and offer their tenants the option to choose paint and do it themselves, taking the cost out of their rent. How you deal with painting in apartments between tenants is mostly personal preference, though you should make sure there are no state laws requiring painting every certain amount of years.

 

Using Your Time Efficiently When Transitioning Tenants

All of these tasks may seem like they won’t take up too much time, but when you have multiple units across multiple buildings, with tenant leases ending at different times, the amount of time you spend preparing your properties for new tenants can really add up. You shouldn’t be spending all of your free time doing apartment upkeep and maintenance; getting involved with investment property was supposed to be beneficial to you, not take up all your time, after all.
You could hire out contractors to do the work for you, of course, but even that requires you to show up to the property to let cleaners, painters, and other maintenance workers in and return to the property when they’re finished to ensure the building is secured. Though it’s less time consuming than doing everything yourself, it’s still a lot of wasted time that you could be spending doing something more productive or enjoyable.

 

How Property Management Companies Can Help You

If you’ve never worked with a property management company for your properties, you may be surprised at how much they can help with move-out and move-in procedures, as well as other aspects of being a landlord. They’ll be able to contract out the necessary work, meet workers at the property, ensure that the units are ready to go for the next tenant, and work with departing tenants to get everything squared away for you. You can literally hand off all of those pesky jobs to someone else and really reap the benefits of owning investment properties.

Here at Lofty, we believe that owning investment properties shouldn’t be a headache. We take care of everything our clients need, from screening tenants to doing the work between occupancies. Stop wasting time checking whether lights are working and sweeping baseboards and start enjoying being a landlord and property owner.

For more information about how we can help you live the life you deserve, contact us today.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

what to do if tenants wont pay rent

When to Raise Rent in Your Chicago Apartments

By | Leasing

As a property owner or landlord, getting a good return on your investment is part of why you do what you do. While you want to keep your tenants happy while they are renting from you, the inevitable truth is that sooner or later, you’re going to have to raise rent. There are ways to do so that can keep tenants satisfied while also boosting your income and profits. One of the trickiest parts of being a landlord or investment property owner, though, is knowing when it’s time to raise rent and by how much. If you don’t have a property management company advising you, that can certainly help, but in the meantime, here are our tips for knowing when to increase rent.

When (and How Often) Should You Raise Rent?

Raising rent can be a contentious subject. You and your tenants both know that it’s something that will eventually need to be done, but when and how often you do it are two things you need to consider. If you give your tenant a great deal on their Chicago apartment when they first sign the lease, then don’t increase rent for a few years, you may find that by the time you decide to increase it you’re getting far below market rate for the unit and may need to raise it by a significant amount. Increasing the price all at once can be a big burden on your tenants, and after developing a good working relationship with them, it can cause a lot of conflict. The worst case scenario is that they can’t handle the increase financially and they’ll move out of your property, leaving you with an unexpected vacancy, but that can be prevented with a little foresight.

In order to avoid finding out that your tenants are paying a few hundred dollars under market rate and increasing by that amount all at once, it’s best to increase rent little by little for each year of their occupancy. Even if you increase the price by just $25 per month, that’s an extra $300 per year–for every tenant you have. Steeper increases, of course, add up to even more profits.

If you don’t want to raise rent every year—for instance, if you want to reward an especially trustworthy and timely-paying tenant—that’s okay, too. Rent increases are a very subjective topic, and when you decide to increase rent should correlate both with market fluctuations and inflation as well as your personal preference and relationship with the tenants. Just keep in mind that eventually, you will need to increase the rate to keep up with your own expenses.

If a tenant moves out, however, you have the perfect opportunity to reassess the worth of your property and increase the rent accordingly. When your units are vacant, that’s the perfect time to capitalize on the market’s fluctuations and change what you’re charging for your apartments and homes.

How Much Should You Increase Rent By?

How much you raise rent should be influenced by a few different factors. While it can seem tempting to raise the rent a lot to keep in time with the market, such as when a neighborhood  becomes the “hot” place to live, this can lead to your apartments sitting vacant for longer than you’d like. You should weigh the benefits and drawbacks of raising rent by a lot—will your current tenant move, leaving you to find a new renter? You need to consider if the potential for vacancy is worth the additional income from a significant rate hike.

If you want to keep your current, reliable tenants, the safest way to do so is by raising rent somewhere between two and six percent, after assessing the state of the market as well as local demand. This amount is usually manageable for tenants and won’t typically cause them to need to find a new place to live, but the increase, even though it’s seemingly small, is more than enough to make a difference in your bottom line.

If you’re not sure how much you can safely raise rent by in order to keep your current tenants, or you want advice on how much you should raise the rates to get a better return on your investment properties, asking your property management company can be a great help—they’ll have a lot of information about competing properties and what the average rentals are going for in the area your property is.   

Should You Ever Avoid Increasing Rent?

Sometimes, such as if your property tax doesn’t increase (what luck!), you may be tempted to avoid increasing rent at all. While you’re well within your rights to do that, it’s generally recommended to increase rent by at least a little bit each year so that you won’t have to increase rent by a very large amount at a later time.

What to Do If a Tenant Pushes Back

Unfortunately, one result of raising rent can be your tenant choosing to move. Again, this is something you’ll want to weigh before you raise rent, but ultimately, if a tenant doesn’t want to or can’t pay the increase, they’ll have to move. If you do want to help accommodate your tenants’ needs, though, you can work with your property management company to determine whether you can raise rent a bit less or not.

 

Feeling Stuck or Confused?

Dealing with rent increases can be a complicated subject, and if you own a lot of properties in different areas in Chicago, doing it all yourself can be a big headache—it can seem like all you’re doing sometimes is analyzing the market and adjusting numbers.

At Lofty, we believe that being an investment property owner or landlord shouldn’t have to be a full-time job, and we do everything we can to ensure that you get to live the life you deserve. To learn more about the best ways to manage rent increases, contact us anytime—we’re ready to help you.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

what you need to know about keeping deposits

Returning or Keeping a Security Deposit?

By | Property Management

Lofty Real Estate saves you money
If you’ve been a property owner or landlord in Chicago for any significant amount of time, you probably know all about security deposits: how to store them properly, when you need to give them back (if you plan on giving them back), what constitutes normal wear and tear and what constitutes damage that should be paid for with the security deposit, and how to deal with tenants who fight your decision to withhold the deposit.

But if you’re just dipping your toes into being a landlord or owning investment properties, learning about all of it can make your head swim. At Lofty, our goal is to make your job easier, and that means teaching you everything you need to know about returning (or not) the security deposits for your properties.

Returning It? Here’s How

Generally speaking, in Illinois, security deposits must be returned to the tenant within 30 to 45 days of the lease ending. Though some states require landlords to give tenants a move-in statement that details the condition of the property, Illinois is not one of them, so it’s in your best interest to keep accurate records of the condition your properties are in when tenants move in. That way, when they vacate the unit, you can cross-check against your old notes and see if there are repairs that need to be made.

If you’re returning the deposit, be sure to make receipts for both your own records and the tenant’s, so that the tenant can’t claim you never returned it. When you return the deposit, be sure to date the receipt—though it seems like a simple detail, leaving it out on accident can come back to haunt you. Without a date on receipt, you could find yourself paying out more in fees and court costs if tenants take you to court over deposit-related conflict. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry—it kind of is. If you’re taking matters into your own hands, security deposits can be a real headache. Working with a property management company can help take away some of the stress associated with security deposit issues.

What You Need to Know About Keeping Deposits

Returning a security deposit is easy. It’s when you decide to keep some or all of it that things can get really messy. Here’s what you should know about keeping deposits.

First Things First: What Constitutes “Normal Wear and Tear”?  

Security deposits are typically kept by landlords in Chicago (and elsewhere) to cover the cost of damages and repairs. A lot of times, this is fought by tenants who claim that the damage is consistent with “normal wear and tear” on the unit. Normal wear and tear is a real thing, but in order to know whether or not something falls under that category, it’s helpful to know what’s generally considered normal wear and tear in a rental unit.

    • Flooring: Carpet gets dirty and hardwood floors can get scratched, but if a tenant leaves behind pet stains or multiple cracked tiles, or floorboards that are excessively damaged, that’s not considered normal use.
    • Walls: This is a big issue between landlords and tenants—whether holes from nails used to hang artwork or other decorations are considered normal wear and tear. And the answer tends to differ from landlord to landlord. Use your best judgment here; splitting hairs over two or three nail holes might not be worth the potential hassle of a tenant trying to take you to court for the security deposit. Holes in the wall, however, are a completely different story and should be fixed with security deposit funds.
    • Pet Damage: Things like chewed-on cabinet doors, scratches on the walls, and stains are all out of the realm of normal wear and tear in a rental. In order to plan for problems like these, many landlords choose to charge non-refundable deposits or additional pet rent.
  • Overall Cleanliness: While you might want to reconsider charging a cleaning fee for unswept floors and some light tidying, if a tenant leaves behind the remnants of a last-minute party, food in the refrigerator, and general filth, it’s more than acceptable to charge for cleaning.

The Most Common Reasons Deposits Are Kept

There are a handful of reasons that a security deposit might be withheld. They include:

  • Early termination of the lease
  • Unpaid rent
  • Money owed to the landlord for utility bills
  • Cleaning fees for dirty or un-cleaned apartments
  • Damage to property (or furniture in furnished units)

 

What Do You Have to Provide to the Tenant if You’re Keeping the Deposit?

Laws vary from state to state regarding what you need to give your tenant if you are keeping any or all of their deposit, but generally, it’s good form to provide a list of services performed or things that needed fixing/replaced and the costs associated with them. This lets the tenant know that you actually used the money for what you said you did, and that you didn’t just charge $200 to dust the baseboards.

What to Do If a Tenant Contests Your Decision

If a tenant feels that you are wrongfully withholding any or all of their deposit, they may choose to file in small claims court or even hire a personal attorney to handle the case. However, you have rights—if you are justified in keeping the deposit, you can counter-sue the tenant to ensure you don’t end up underwater with fees and costs. Going to court can be a huge pain and can cost a lot of money for all parties, though, so if it’s a minor quabble—say, over a $50 invoice for cleaning, it may be best to try and settle with the tenant to avoid a costly court case.

Getting Help When You Need It

You got into investment property ownership to make money, not to make your full-time job dealing with tenant hassles. Here at Lofty, we want to help you with every aspect of being a landlord, from finding the best tenants to answering your security deposit questions and everything in between, so that you can save time and frustration and do things you actually want to do. Contact us anytime to learn how working with a property management company can help you start living the life you deserve to live.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

Furnished or Unfurnished Apartments in Chicago: Which Should You Offer?

By | Leasing

 

The Case for Furnished Units

Furnished apartments are sought after for a number of reasons. People who are looking for shorter term rentals (such as a summer sublease, or a one-year stay in a city) or who don’t want to bother with decorating their own spaces will often seek out furnished apartments. Additionally, college students who don’t yet need their own sets of furniture will make up some of your interested tenants. Furnished apartments in Chicago are beneficial for landlords whose rental pool includes these demographics, but beyond simply meeting a demand and having a predictable market, there are other reasons why a property owner or landlord might offer their apartments as furnished units.

Increased Rent and Security Deposits or Fees

When you have furnished rental units, you can charge more for them, because you’re offering your tenants the convenience of not having to supply their own furniture. Even with the increased cost, though, renters who want furnished units tend to agree that the added cost is worth not having to buy furniture. You’ll also be able to set higher move-in fees or security deposits to cover the costs of supplying and maintaining furniture.

Quicker Tenant Turnover

When you rent out unfurnished apartments, the move-in/move-out processes can be somewhat complicated—coordinating walk-throughs to check for damage can be time-consuming, since you need to wait for all of the furniture to be out of the unit prior to checking. With furnished units, you just have to clean the unit and the next tenant can move in right away.

 

Ease of Finding Renters

Renters who need furnished units in Chicago know that they have fewer options to choose from, and know they can’t be as choosy as they might be if they were looking for an unfurnished apartment. Even though renters who want furnished apartments are scarcer than those who want unfurnished apartments, finding tenants for your units is still relatively easy, simply because there aren’t as many furnished apartments on the market. Since supply is limited, it’s usually not difficult to find renters for furnished apartments in Chicago.

Potential Pitfalls of Furnished Units

On the other side of the coin, offering furnished units can have some drawbacks. First, you’ll have to source furniture that is durable and reasonably attractive, which can be a tall order. The upkeep in these apartments can be more labor-intensive as well, including replacing or repairing furniture as it endures natural wear and tear.

There is also higher turnover in furnished apartments, simply because those renters are usually staying for shorter periods of time than renters in unfurnished apartments.

Perhaps the biggest potential downside of offering furnished units, though, is the possibility that tenants will cause more damage than they would in an unfurnished unit. That can be attributed to the thought that because the furniture is not theirs, they don’t need to take good care of it—after all, if anything breaks, their landlord can just replace it! In order to protect yourself from destructive tenants, it’s helpful to work with a property management company in Chicago to screen tenants and find the most trustworthy renters.

Benefits of Renting Unfurnished Apartments

Furnished apartments are much more common to find listings for, and for that reason, tenants have a lot more to choose from. This makes your job a bit tougher, but offering unfurnished apartments in Chicago offers a lot of great benefits as well.

A Larger Tenant Market Means Shorter Vacancy Periods

Unfurnished apartments are generally pretty easy to rent because they’re what most tenants are looking for when they’re hunting for a place to live. For that reason, your vacancy periods may be shorter than they would be if you were renting furnished units. Additionally, since more people are looking for unfurnished apartments in Chicago, you’ll have more flexibility in choosing renters, and can be a bit pickier when it comes to tenant screenings.

Since more people want unfurnished apartments, it’s usually easier to get them rented. You can show the units either with furniture in them or without—or, you can feature photos of the apartment in both states, so that people can visualize what they can do with the space.

People may be interested in a certain location, but if your unit is offered as being furnished and they have their own furniture, they’ll pass on yours. Marketing unfurnished apartments means you may have better luck keeping your apartments in Chicago rented.

Less Upkeep and Responsibility

Unfurnished apartments are also a bit less responsibility to take care of than furnished ones. Furnished units need to be kept looking their best, and that can mean replacing the furniture pretty frequently—over the lifespan of your property, that can add up to a lot of money spent on furniture. Similarly, when one tenant moves out and you need to prep it for the next renter, you don’t have to move furniture to paint or refinish floors, for instance. Generally speaking, you’ll have less to do with unfurnished units in the realm of cosmetic updates.

Possible Problems Associated with Unfurnished Rentals

Thankfully, there aren’t too many issues related to renting unfurnished apartments. Perhaps the biggest one you’ll have to deal with is damage caused by your tenants moving their furniture in and out of the building, or people leaving behind furniture that you then have to dispose of yourself.

 

Which Is Best For Your Property?

Although there are benefits and disadvantages to both options, the more common choice for property owners in Chicago is to rent their units as unfurnished apartments. If you’re still not sure which is best for your specific property, working with a property management company can be very helpful. They’ll be able to help you make an informed decision about your apartments, and they’ll also be able to take care of all the maintenance, bookkeeping, and other responsibilities of being a landlord, so that you can live the life you deserve. Here at Lofty, we want to help you make the most of your investment properties—call us anytime to learn more about how we can make owning rental property a lot easier for you.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

how to move out tenants chicago

How Property Management Can Make Move-In and Move-Out Easier for You

By | Property Management

When one lease ends and another begins, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Security deposits need to be sorted and returned to departing tenants, the first month’s rent needs to be collected from new renters, and in between, maintenance may need to be done on the property. And if you’ve got one tenant moving out without having one lined up to move in, that’s even more work—creating an ad and marketing the property, booking showings, and screening tenants. Altogether, it’s a lot of time that you could be using to do virtually anything else. Owning and managing investment properties shouldn’t be a mess of paperwork and endless busywork. If you’re tired of spending all of your time on what you thought would be a relatively easy way to earn extra money, you’ll be relieved to know that you’re not stuck—learn more about how property managers can make the move-in and move-out processes easier for Chicago landlords and property owners.

What to Do When Tenants Move Out

When tenants’ leases end and they move out, there are a few things that property owners or landlords have to do, including:

These three tasks alone can be be very time consuming—finding vendors and contractors to take care of repairs, maintenance, and any updates you want to make can feel like you’re on a wild goose chase. Once you find contractors, you’ll have to fit them in your schedule during a time when you can be at the property. To say that it’s inconvenient is an understatement. Getting keys back from the tenant can also prove frustrating. If you’re working with a property manager, though, they can take the time to track down the tenant, so that you don’t have to deal with calling over and over again, getting their voicemail every time. Likewise, the best property management companies in Chicago will have a list of trusted, vetted vendors and contractors that they can schedule for any property maintenance you need, and you won’t have to be there for any of it if you don’t want to.

 

Managing Vacancy Periods in Chicago Rentals

After one tenant moves out, one of two things will happen: there will be a vacancy period, or the next tenant will move right in. For now, let’s focus on the former.

If your property is vacant, you need to place ads, market the property, field phone calls from interested renters, schedule bookings, and show your property. If you’re trying to do this on your own, you can end up spending almost all of your extra time dealing with the property—which can feel like more work than it’s worth. After all, you got into investment properties to make money, not to take on a second full-time job, right? Property management companies in Chicago have written hundreds of apartment, condo, and home ads, and in addition to knowing the best places to market your property, they can often work out better deals with publications than individual landlords or property owners can, simply due to the higher volume of ads they place.

You want your vacancy period to be as short as possible so that you aren’t losing money, and property managers will be able to set your rental price according to current trends and market demands. You won’t have to worry if you’re charging too much or not enough for your rental, and people will be more interested in the property when it’s priced well—too high and people will balk, but too low, and some people may wonder what’s wrong with the place (are the walls so thin that they’ll be able to hear their neighbors debate about who should win The Bachelor, for instance?).

Once the property managers have shown your property and have some potential tenants lined up, they’ll be able to screen them, too. You won’t have to deal with background checks or conducting interviews. Property management companies have tried-and-true methods for ensuring they’re getting reliable tenants into properties, too, so you won’t have to worry about whether the tenants are the type of people who pay rent late every month or host loud, late-night parties in their studio apartments every weekend.
Imagine not having to deal with any of the headache-inducing frustration that is the vacancy period. You’ll have so much more time on your hands—time you could use to, say, catch up on The Bachelor (or do anything else!). Working with a property manager means you won’t have treat owning investment property like a second full-time job.

Helping Tenants and Landlords with the Move-In Process

Now that you’ve got a tenant who is ready to move into your property (whether or not you had a vacancy period), you’ll have to do even more work. It can feel like it’s never-ending, can’t it? Some property owners and landlords like to be onsite when new tenants move in, for helping with anything that might come up, and if you own a lot of properties, that can mean busy days for you every time a new lease starts. You’ll also need to make sure that the new tenant has paid their first month of rent, which can, like getting the keys back at the end of a lease, sometimes be a frustrating process. New tenants may not know where to send rent at first, too, which can lead to a late payment or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about tracking down your payments, and when you work with a property management company in Chicago, you won’t have to. Property managers take care of everything related to the tenant move-in process. They can be onsite during the move, they can track down your rent checks, and if anything happens during the move-in process, they can quickly schedule maintenance or repairs. It’s a level of convenience that’ll have you wondering why you didn’t start up with a property management company sooner.

Enjoy Your Time and Your Property

Here at Lofty, we understand that your time is your most valuable commodity, and we work hard to ensure you won’t have to waste it doing busy work for your rentals. We can take care of everything during the move-in and move-out processes for your properties, and we can also manage vacancies so that you can earn more money. To start living the life you deserve to live, give us a call anytime—we’d love to work with you and help make your life easier.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

where to rent chicago

Why Some Chicago Neighborhoods Are More Expensive to Buy and Rent In

By | Property Management

When you think about real estate in Chicago to rent or buy in, you’ve probably got a pretty good picture of what the more expensive neighborhoods look like: high-end boutiques, unique, trendy restaurants, and sharp looking homes, condos, and apartments. You’re not wrong—these highly sought after lifestyle amenities are what make some neighborhoods so hot. But when it comes to buying and renting, there are some other reasons why certain areas of Chicago cost what they do. Learning what tenants are looking for (hint: it’s not only stainless steel appliances and marble countertops) will help you make the best decisions about where to purchase investment property or rental units.

Neighborhood Growth

Over time, the vibe of different neighborhoods changes, causing fluctuation in things like how much homes are valued at. As a property owner or landlord, it’s natural to want to get the most return on your investment, so purchasing properties in up-and-coming neighborhoods is generally a great plan. An increase in the cost to rent or own in a neighborhood can often be attributed to the amount of—and the type of—development happening in an area. If more restaurants, newer apartment buildings or homes, and other interesting hotspots are being built up in a certain area, it’s safe to assume that those neighborhoods will soon cost more to live in, and in turn, will cost more to rent or own property in.

Location, Location, Location

Of course, where an apartment, condo, or home is located in Chicago will also dictate how much it will cost. Property owners and landlords know that the closer a home is to L stops, the more sought after it will be—Chicago is a city full of commuters young and old, and getting to school or work conveniently is a priority that a lot of renters and owners have when choosing where they live. For instance, though neighborhoods like Rogers Park have a lot to offer, they’re further away from the center of the city, and it can take longer to get places from there. The same can be said for most any neighborhood on the outskirts of the city—the longer it takes to get somewhere, the less popular the area is, generally speaking.

What’s Happening?

Aside from simple proximity to transportation, people will be looking for what they can do in their neighborhood without getting on a train or bus. In other words, what Chicago events take place? For example, in neighborhoods like Bucktown and Wicker Park, the Do Division and Wicker Park Fests are a popular fixture every summer, and for those who already live in the area, it’s a convenient way to spend a weekend. In River North, plenty of nightlife options are attractive to people who love checking out the latest bar, nightclub, or restaurant. When considering where to purchase investment property, property owners and landlords should consider what their potential future tenants will be looking for and make decisions accordingly. In order to get the best return on an investment, you’ll want to be able to offer your potential renters something they find value in.

How to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Naturally, purchasing property that is in a popular neighborhood will mean that you’ll likely have no trouble renting it. But as a landlord or property owner, it’s only natural to want to get a great deal on property as well as be able to make the most of your investment. Paying a high cost upfront can mean spending a lot of time trying to keep up with the competition—working very hard for marginal returns. Earning more on your investment means looking at up-and-coming neighborhoods that don’t yet have the numbers you’re looking for, but will very shortly.

Take a look at a neighborhood like Logan Square. A decade ago, tenants shied away due to lack of development. Five years ago, renting in Logan Square was a popular choice with younger, “artsy-type” tenants who were looking for a great deal after being priced out of Wicker Park. Now, it’s one of the hottest and fastest-growing areas in the city. Rents have gone up—the average price of a studio apartment is now between $800 and $900, with larger apartments costing more—a lot of new businesses are thriving, and the overall feel of the neighborhood is much more fun and exciting than it used to be. As a landlord or property owner, finding properties in neighborhoods that are growing but not yet fully built-up—such as Humboldt Park or Avondale—can mean a high return on your investment. In a similar vein, purchasing apartments, condos, and homes in popular Chicago neighborhoods like Hyde Park, Lakeview, and West Loop can mean you’ll always have people interested in your property.

Taking advantage of growing areas means keeping a close eye on where developers are heading and where tenants are moving from. This will give you a good idea of where to buy or rent next—property owners benefit a great deal from getting into a certain real estate market early. As an area heats up, you can adjust rent accordingly and watch your profit margin rise. You’ll also want to look at properties that are closer to the L stops and bus lines—as we previously mentioned, ease of getting around is a major reason people pick to live in one place over another. That means that cost of properties will be different even from block to block. Choosing location wisely can have a huge impact on your property’s success.

Start Taking Advantage of Opportunity

When you’re ready to start capitalizing on new rental properties or want to learn more about why some neighborhoods cost more to rent and own in than others, property management companies can offer a lot of insight. At Lofty, we’re ready to help you get the most out of your investment so that you can live the life you deserve. Contact us anytime to find out more about investment properties in Chicago and how you can make them work harder for you.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

tenant screening chicago

Credit Checks And What To Look For When Screening Potential Tenants

By | Leasing

When you’re trying to fill your property vacancies on your own, finding new tenants can almost become a full-time job. Credit and background checks are a good place to start, but in order to choose the best, most reliable and trustworthy tenants, you should be looking for certain things that can mean problems for you down the line. Making the best choice the first time is a perfect goal to aspire to, and the best way to find the best tenants for your properties is to pore over background checks and credit checks with a fine-toothed comb, weeding out the applicants who might cause you headaches later on.

What to Know Before the Background and Credit Checks

Ask most any landlord or property manager how they find the best tenants for vacant properties, and you’ll likely hear that they start the tenant screening process the first time they make contact with an interested applicant. By asking potential tenants a few key questions, owners and landlords in Chicago can get a better feel of what they might be getting into if they rent to that a person. For example, if you ask someone looking at your property when they need to move in, and they say in just a few days, it can be an indication that this tenant hasn’t planned ahead enough (will rent be late, too?). However, if the person answers that they don’t need a new place for four months, you can count on them not being ready to commit to signing a lease, simply because they have a lot of time to look at plenty of properties and won’t feel any time crunch. Both of these situations can cause potential snags in your rental process. As a property owner, you should ask potential tenants a few questions to get a feel for what kind of renters they’d be, such as:

  • Income What their monthly income is, and whether they can show proof of it. If they’re reluctant to provide proof of income, they may not be telling the truth about the amount of rent they can cover every month.
  • References If you can, get a reference or two from former landlords. Current landlord references can help in a pinch, but if the tenant is bad, that landlord might say just about anything to get rid of them. Instead, check with former landlords, who have no reason to lie about a tenant who regularly hosted loud parties late into the night, left cigarette burns on the hardwood floors, and smashed holes into the walls before moving out (some of those “worst tenant ever” stories will give you nightmares!)
  • Motivation Why they’re moving. This sounds pretty basic and perhaps a bit personal of a question, but while most tenants will say that they need more space or want a change of scenery, some will mention problems with their landlord or an eviction. These are obvious problems you’ll want to avoid.

 

Conducting Background Checks and Credit Checks in Chicago

Nowadays, potential tenants are used to being asked to submit to a credit and background check as part of the approval for a new rental. If an applicant resists this step, it could be because they are hiding something—felonies, evictions, collections, or a host of other issues—and you may want to reconsider the offer.

Once you’ve run the background check and credit check, there are a number of things to look into when deciding which applicants will be the best tenants for your apartments or condos in Chicago.

Evictions

Obviously, if you see that a tenant has been evicted from properties before, you may want to do some investigating. These may not always mean that the prospective tenant should be disqualified—ask the tenant and previous landlord the details, and make an informed decision from there. One instance of a wrongful eviction might be something like a landlord refusing to make repairs, and evicting the tenant in retaliation. Illegal? Absolutely! That’s why it might be in your best interest to work with applicants on a case-by-case basis if an eviction is the only red flag on their background or credit check.

Public Records/Lawsuits

Another thing you’ll want to look out for is whether your applicant has ever been sued for things like unpaid rent or unpaid child support. These can be a pretty clear sign that the applicant has trouble paying for things on time. Do you want to roll the dice and cross your fingers that you won’t be the next person chasing down payment? Probably not, especially when you can likely find other renters in Chicago who are better suited for your property.Make sure that the applicant’s credit score is healthy, too—multiple collections and a high debt-to-income/limit ratio can mean a tenant has problems managing money.

Run-Ins With the Law

If your applicant has some minor things on their record, you may not need to worry about them being an unsuitable tenant—plenty of people did stupid things when they were young that they now regret as responsible adults, and these infractions may not be grounds enough to discount them from your applicant pool. However, some criminal charges could mean putting yourself and your other tenants at risk. Use your best judgement in these cases, or confer with your property management company for a second opinion. Felonies can indicate a disregard for following the rules (obviously), and renting to these applicants can mean allowing someone that is potentially dangerous into your property—seriously, those “worst tenant ever” stories are no joke. Don’t let your property make a Buzzfeed list for the wrong reasons.

Need Help With Tenant Screenings?

Screening applicants doesn’t have to be your full-time job. Property management companies can be a great asset when you want to spend your time as a landlord or property owner doing something different. Here at Lofty, we know that your time is your most valuable commodity and we’ll help you manage anything you need. Give us a call today and find out how we can help you enjoy owning your properties even more than you already do, and start living the life you deserve.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

 

Neighborhood Guide – Wicker Park

By | Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the Wicker Park (sometimes referred to as the Wicker Park/Bucktown) Neighborhood!

Over the last decade, Wicker Park (and Bucktown), centered around the six-corner intersection of Milwaukee, North and Damen Avenues, has gradually transformed from a gritty-come-artsy neighborhood of galleries and dive bars to trendy, upscale living and entertainment. This is mainly due to an increase of homes being bought, renovated and built. However, all the flavor has not been bought out of the area as Wicker Park remains a vibrant hub of culture and commerce in Chicago, riddled with boutiques, restaurants, cocktail bars, concerts venues and condos.

FACTS

The Wicker Park Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Chicago. Much of Wicker Park was also designated as a Chicago Landmark District.

2000’s quintessential John Cusak film, High Fidelity, was filmed here—Rob’s store was located at the corner of Milwaukee and Honore.

In 2001 a season of MTV’s The Real World, was filmed in Wicker Park in the loft building currently home to Cheetah Gym.

Milwaukee Avenue’s Costa Rica Restaurant, Irazu, has been featured on PBS television’s Check, Please!, Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (Guy Fieri sampled several dishes) and Food Network’s The Secret Life of Milkshakes. The burritos competed in ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight’s 2014 Burrito Bracket.

Some notable residents include:

WWE wrestlers, Colt Cabana and CM Punk; singer/songwriter, Liz Phair; former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist, James Iha; singer/guitarist for The Alkaline Trio, Matt Skiba.

EATS

Chicago is a food city! With too many great restaurants to include them all, consider this a quick start guide to your flavorful adventures… enjoy exploring your new neighborhood eateries!

Antique Taco
1360 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Owned and operated by a husband and wife team, indulge yourself in a seasonal menu of gourmet tacos & Mexican appetizers doled out in a shabby-chic, counter-serve space.

Big Star
1531 N. Damen Avenue
Probably one of the best outdoor patios in the city and their tacos speak for themselves. No matter what time of day, this place is jammed with people eating the Mexican street food and drinking. Heads up though, this popular spot is cash only.

Piece Brewery and Pizza
1927 W. North Avenue
This isn’t your typical pizza joint. The go-to specialties? A New Haven, CT style pizza smothered in red sauce, topped with garlic, extra parmesan, and olive oil with notably no mozzarella (though cheese is an option as well as other toppings) paired with award-winning, brewed-on-premise, small-batch beers. Fun Fact: Doug Sohn chose Piece to host his Hot Doug’s swan song–a fusion of encased meat and pizza, named the Atomic Bomb after the menu mainstay from his much-missed eatery.

Trencherman
2039 W. North Avenue
Formerly a Russian bath house, the space is now host to a Modern American menu influenced by Chicago’s rich neighborhood history, with a ridiculous Wednesday $10 burger and beer special!

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate
1747 N. Damen Avenue
Hip, family-friendly American eatery known for it’s seasonal menus, rich desserts and of course, hot chocolate.

The Bongo Room
1470 N. Milwaukee Avenue
The place to go for all your brunch desires. Features inventive pancakes and other updated American breakfast and lunch classics.

DRINKS

As previously stated, consider this a quick start guide to begin your exploration!

The Violet Hour
1520 N. Damen Avenue
This swanky cocktail lounge has a distinctly speakeasy vibe and the carefully constructed cocktails are excellent. You won’t find a sign on the door, and the decor is completely and unarguably gorgeous.

Emporium Arcade Bar
1366 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Bring out your inner child with 40+ 25¢ arcade games to provide the entertainment and 24 rotating craft beers and 50+ kinds of whiskey to provide the fuel!

Bangers & Lace
1670 W. Division Street
Named after sausage (“bangers”) and “Brussels lace,” i.e., beer foam on the edge of a glass (“lace”), this Division Ave upstart harnesses a stellar draft selection and knowledgeable staff that draw in a lively mix of beer aficionados and neighborhood clientele at all hours and seasons. They even offer two-ounce sample beers and a sweet patio space in the summer!

Estelle’s
2013 W. North Avenue
At this low-key sanctuary in the Milwaukee-North-Damen intersection, no one is trying to out-cool anyone—the uncool simply can’t hang and leave. Comfortably strike up a conversation with a new friend over a PBR ($2 on Tuesdays!) and some late-night bar food, served till 3am, after one of many shows at Subterranean, the venue next door.

PARKS AND INTERESTS

RSVP Gallery
1753 N Damen Avenue
Technically in Bucktown, RSVP is a design and fashion-minded shop selling high-end clothing, art and wares for those young of heart and thick of wallet. Heavy streetwear and fashion-blogger influence.

Mildblend Supply Co.
1342 N Milwaukee Avenue
With “a rustic and recycled interior,” MildBlend Supply Co. (formerly Untitled, a Chicago legend) carries high-end denim along with all type of trendy men’s and women’s casual and fine clothing, leather goods, shoes, bags, and grooming products. They are also pioneering supporters of the Made In USA movement.

Green Music Fest
Intersection of Damen, North and Milwaukee
This environmentally conscious Wicker Park street festival takes over Damen Ave, bringing green vendors, food and biodiesel- and bicycle-powered live music to the neighborhood for two nights each summer.

LVL3
1542 N. Milwaukee Avenue
SAIC graduate, Vincent Uribe opened this gallery in 2009, just after he finished his freshman year. Years later, he’s still runs this space and is presenting some the area’s most exciting group shows, gathering work from artists all over the country.

Wicker Park
1425 N. Damen Avenue
This four-acre recreation area may be small for a popular park, but when the weather is warm you will be able to find residents sitting by the fountain, playing basketball on the courts and kids playing on the swings. A field house in the middle of the park contains a gymnasium and meeting rooms, overlooking a lush public garden that is tended by members of the community.

Wicker Park Farmer’s Market
1425 N. Damen Avenue
Each Sunday, a small grouping of farmers, vendors and shoppers descend on Wicker Park for the neighborhood’s farmers’ market, which features fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, meats, cheeses, and flowers. The market begins in May and ends in October.

The 606
also referred to as The Bloomingdale Trail – various access points along Bloomingdale Avenue
This old elevated train line has been given new life as a connective system of parks, access points, and multi-use exercise trail.

TRANSPORTATION

The L – Blue Line
Easy access to the CTA Blue Line services this area. Stations are located at Division, Damen and Western.

Bus
The following bus routes are also readily available:

North-South bus lines:

  • #9 Ashland Avenue
  • #50 Damen Avenue
  • #49 Western Avenue
  • #56 Milwaukee Avenue

East-West bus lines:

  • #70 Division Street
  • #72 North Avenue
  • #73 Armitage Avenue
  • #74 Fullerton Avenue

Proximity to Downtown
Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the neighborhood, but Wicker Park is approximately 5 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 13 minutes taking I-90 East. If traveling via the CTA, allow approximately 45 minutes.

Surrounding Areas
Bucktown, West Town and Ukranian Village are your closest neighbors. The awesome thing about the surrounding neighborhoods is that they offer up different atmospheres that are unique to them…and quite honestly, that’s what makes Chicago great.

 Get in touch with our experts to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood.

 

 

Security Deposits vs. Move-In Fees: Which Is Better for Your Property?

By | Property Management

In the increasingly competitive rental market in Chicago, it’s becoming more and more common for landlords to charge non-refundable move-in fees instead of the more traditional security deposit. There are a number of reasons for the shift to this policy, and in order to decide which is better for you and your properties, it’s important to learn more about why these fees are becoming a standard part of the rental agreement in Chicago.

Tenant Rights for Security Deposits

One of the biggest reasons landlords and property owners are choosing to charge non-refundable fees instead of security deposits is the risk potential that accompany even small, seemingly-insignificant mistakes. For example, if a landlord forgets to date the receipt for the security deposit, tenants are eligible for an immediate return of the deposit, as well as other damages, which can equal up to two times the initial security deposit amount, plus court costs and associated legal fees. With the risk of situations like these arising, it’s not surprising that the non-refundable move-in fee is getting more popular.

What’s more, there are very detailed regulations associated with how landlords have to manage, store, and pay interest on the collected security deposit. While security deposits can be helpful in eviction processes to cover a tenant’s unpaid rent, they may not always be the most ideal choice for your properties—even with helpful property managers taking care of your paperwork and books, the process of dealing with security deposits can sometimes be complicated. When it comes to streamlining the rental process, move-in fees can be a great way to save time and frustration, but it’s up to you to determine what’s right for your properties. If you’re stuck, a property management company can help reveal all the potential benefits and drawbacks of security deposits and fees, allowing you to make the most informed decision.

 

Benefits of Charging Non-Refundable Move-In Fees and Pet Rent in Chicago

For renters, move-in fees have obvious benefits—handing over the equivalent of one or more months of rent as a security deposit can be a tough financial hurdle, and move-in fees are traditionally much less expensive than security deposits—averaging around $200-400 for Chicago tenants.

The benefits of charging non-refundable fees don’t just apply to tenants, though. For landlords in Chicago, charging move-in and pet fees eliminates the need for separate, often-complicated accounts to hold deposits in, and it guarantees immediate income that can be used for property maintenance or other costs.

With non-refundable fees for move-ins, landlords have immediate access to funds that they can use for taking care of routine maintenance and other tasks that need to be done between leases—changing locks, updating directories, painting, small repairs, etc.

Non-refundable fees are easier to keep track of, as well, meaning less work overall for landlords—what’s not to like about that? By collecting fees instead of deposits, you’ll save the time that you would have spent working to ensure you’re meeting all the requirements for holding onto security deposits. As far as tenant rights and landlord responsibilities are concerned, move-in fees are becoming the clear winner for many property owners because they’re convenient, quick to collect, and easy to manage.

Pet Deposits and Pet Rent In Rental Agreements

In addition to choosing between move-in fees or security deposits, another important aspect of any rental agreement in Chicago is how the landlord will manage pet deposits or pet rent. There are a lot of benefits to allowing your tenants to keep pets in their homes, but it’s important to make sure you’re protected, too. Many property owners choose not to charge separate pet deposits and security deposits, and for good reason—if a tenant causes damage that is unrelated to the pet, landlords aren’t allowed to use their pet deposits to cover the damage. Pet deposits can only be used for pet-related damages and maintenance, so many landlords instead choose to simply charge an additional amount of pet rent per month.

By charging an additional amount for pet rent, landlords ensure they’ll have the necessary funding to take care of any pet damage, and they’ll also have guaranteed extra income every month, increasing the profitability of the property.

Your Best Option

Making the choice between charging fees or security deposits will depend on a number of factors—beyond the pros and cons of each option, it can ultimately depend on your personal preference as a landlord. Property management companies can offer valuable guidance for what the best course of action may be. Here at Lofty, we are excited to be of service any time you need help deciding whether to charge fees or deposits for your apartments and condos. Reach out today and see how we can help you live the life you deserve.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

Fulton Market Real Estate Brokerage

Neighborhood Guide: West Loop Fulton Market

By | Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the West Loop Neighborhood!

With one of the most happening food scenes in Chicago due to some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, some might say the West Loop is the Best Loop. No doubt, it has become a very desirable and active area! Fulton Market and Randolph’s Restaurant Row are just a few of the main attractions in this popular neighborhood!

FACTS

The West Loop was once strictly industrial. The hip, industrial vibe is still alive today, with former manufacturing and warehousing buildings converted to loft condos, restaurants, nightclubs, event spaces, showrooms and art galleries.

Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated television show, Oprah, was previously produced in the West Loop at Harpo Studios.

Google recently reclaimed and remodeled the old Cold Storage building for their Chicago Headquarters. The southeast corner of the building is home to Cold Storage Oyster Bar and Swift & Sons Steakhouse.

EATS

Chicago is a food city! With too many great restaurants to include them all, consider this a quick start guide to your flavorful adventures… enjoy exploring your new neighborhood eateries!

Au Cheval
800 W. Randolph Street
Awarded the “Best Burger” title by Bon Appetit magazine in 2012, and has since ballooned with popularity. Au Cheval goes through about 400 hamburger patties each weekday and up to 500 a day on the weekend. Head to Au Cheval when it will serve you best: for a burger and a beer at the bar.

Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market Street
Located in the neighborhood’s meat-packing area, this a butcher shop, a sandwich joint, a grocer and a bakery. Menu offerings include house-made charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads, specialty coffee drinks and rustic soups and sandwiches. The little sister restaurant of The Publican, PQM acts as The Publican’s private dining room by night.

Little Goat
820 W. Randolph Street
Stephanie Izard’s bakery and diner serves up reimagined comfort food. As the sequel to her popular Girl & the Goat, the restaurant that put the West Loop on the map, Little Goat has redefined the small-plate trend and proved that winning Top Chef can actually translate into real world success!

Chicken & Farm Shop
113 N. Green Street
Located in Soho House, serving rotisserie-cooked, free-range birds sourced from Pine Manor Farm in Indiana—birds come whole, by the half or quarters. The chickens are continually roasting on a rotisserie behind the bar, so they come out hot and juicy in minutes. You will also be able to enjoy classic American sides and British dessert “puddings.” Craft cocktails, beer and wine offered in a stylish, industrial diner featuring exposed brick walls and big windows.

The Corned Beef Factory
1009 W. Lake Street
An offering of tender, slow-cooked meats awaits you at this cozy, spot located in what was once the front office of the 60+ year old Ex-Cel corned beef factory, an old-school meatpacking district staple that used to sell wholesale briskets out the back door. The meats are cured on site and boast exceptional flavor, and every sandwich comes with house made potato chips and a perfect pickle.

High Five Ramen
112 N. Green Street
Journey under Green Street Meats and feel the vibe of a gritty basement ramen shop in Tokyo. Spice is the name of the game in this hidden gem, but there are plenty of mild bowls to choose from as well. Slushy cocktails are a must at this hip, subterranean eatery.

DRINKS

As previously stated, consider this a quick start guide to begin your exploration!

The Beer Bistro
1060 W. Madison Street
A low-key, tavern with a neighborhood feel just steps from the high-profile establishments of Randolph Street, The Beer Bistro carries upwards of 100 beers. Enjoy one and strike up a conversation with your beer-geek bartender or another good-natured patron.

Fulton Market Kitchen
311 N. Sangamon Street
Part restaurant, part lounge and part art gallery. Grab a seat in this chic warehouse space on one of the couches or at the bar and check out the artwork that is created by local artists and a street art-inspired mural.

Haymarket Pub & Brewery
737 W. Randolph Street
A throwback brewpub that offers a rotating selection of housemade craft beers and pub fare, as well as occasional live music. Even with so many outstanding restaurants in close proximity, this is a great place to grab a drink and a bite.

RM Champagne Salon
116 N. Green Street
Enter this champagne bar through an unmarked alleyway, where glowing strings of lights lead to a cobblestone courtyard! RMCS serves American cuisine small plates in an elegant setting replete with marble fireplace and chandeliers.

City Winery
1200 W. Randolph Street
A veritable one-stop-shop, this unique, 30,000 square foot venue is not only Chicago’s premier  wine and fine dining experience with attached concert venue, but also offers food and wine classes, flexible event space and seem to be on a noble, artistic quest to find the perfect combo of drink, food and sound that will leave you breathless and satisfied.

PARKS AND INTERESTS

Randolph Street Market Festival
1340 W Washington Boulevard
Typically occurring on the last weekend of each month, RSMF boasts 100+ vendors selling goods from antiques, furniture, clothing. During the warmer weather months of May through September, the market features an outdoor spot, with more vintage shopping and a beer garden. Shop for vintage clothes and jewelry, enjoy a fancy food market and global goods or bring your own items for appraisal. Tickets are available at a discount online or can be purchased at the gate.

Mary Bartelme Park
115 S. Sangamon St
At 1.4 acres, this city park is very kid-friendly with swings, slides and a lot of other cool things on which to run around—this park also features pieces that allow for inventive, non-linear play without traditional play equipment! For the dog in your life, there is a sunken dog park which includes a continuously filling, oversized dog bowl, ramps, ledges, steps, and an artificial grass exercise area. You can also find a “viewing hill”, up to six feet high that provides an incredible view of the park with the Chicago Skyline as the backdrop.

Brooklyn Boulders
100 S. Morgan Street
An expansive rock climbing facility which offers classes for beginners to advanced climbers. The building is also home to an “Active Collaborative Workspace,” a co-working office in which you may participate in a little physical activity during the workday. Gee, wonder what that is…

Aspect Ratio
119 N. Peoria Street
The go-to place for video art. Here is the only commercial video art space in the city so be sure to check out the top film-focused exhibitions.

Union Park
1501 W. Randolph Street
From the 1920s through the 1950s, this park was well-known for cultural and social events. Many notable musicians performed there, including: Thomas A. Dorsey; trumpeter Sunny Cohn; and jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis. In the last 12 years, the park has been home to many music and art festivals, including the annual Pitchfork Music Festival, usually held in July, featuring artists from all different music genres including rock, metal, alternative, electronic, pop, hip hop, jazz and more!

TRANSPORTATION

The L

Easy access to the CTA Blue, Green and Pink Lines service this area. Stations are located at Clinton and UIC Halsted (Blue Line), Morgan and Clinton (Green and Pink Lines).

Bus

The #20 bus (Madison) services the West Loop.

Proximity to Downtown

Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the neighborhood, but the West Loop is approximately 2.5 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 10 minutes. If traveling via the CTA, allow approximately 15 minutes.

Surrounding Areas

Greektown, Fulton River District, West Town and Little Italy are your closest neighbors. The awesome thing about the surrounding neighborhoods is that they offer up different atmospheres that are unique to them—quite honestly, that’s what makes Chicago great.
Welcome home!

Thinking about purchasing or renting property in The West Loop? Get in touch with our experts to learn more about this wonderful neighborhood.

Real Estate Brokerage Rogers Park

Neighborhood Guide: Rogers Park

By | Neighborhood Guides, Property Management

Welcome to the Rogers Park Neighborhood!

Rogers Park has two main distinctions as a Chicago neighborhood: First, as the city’s northernmost neighborhood; second, it is considered one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Chicago in terms of population, culture, and even natural wonder.

Despite the seemingly far distance from Downtown, there is plenty of easy accessibility to all forms of public transportation. This means that the unique dining, arts, culture and entertainment found in Rogers Park are never far away. This dynamic neighborhood boasts bright, fresh murals and artwork in newly-updated ‘L’ stations along the Red and Purple lines.

Rogers Park wins the second distinction as people from all over the world call this neighborhood home. There is no dominant ethnicity in this neighborhood as residents speak nearly 40 different languages and have roots from over 80 countries. Howard and Clark Streets are known as the “Commercial District”, while the Glenwood Avenue Arts District and Jarvis Square are home to a pretty robust theater scene and music clubs, in addition to late-night dive bars, galleries, studios, and coffee shops.

Enjoy the sound of waves crashing! The lakefront is within ear shot, and nearly all the streets leading east end at public beaches and parks on Lake Michigan. Beautiful views at dawn give way to breezy afternoons along Lake Michigan. Cyclists may utilize the myriad bike lanes on winding side and main roads to maximize their new locale, and urban naturalists will find an entirely different set of florae and faunae than they are used to seeing in Chicago.

FACTS

The Rogers Park area was developed on what once was Native American trails, now known as Rogers Avenue and Ridge Boulevard. The Potawatomi tribe (among other regional tribes) would settle in Rogers Park seasonally. Indian Boundary Park, west of Rogers Park and Pottawattomie Park near Clark Street and Rogers Avenue, pay homage to these historical roots.

Rogers Park has a higher rate of residents with Master’s, Professional, and Doctorate degrees than the state average. In addition, the amount of residents that work for not-for-profit institutions and organizations is almost twice as high as the state average.

Some notable residents include:

Former First Lady, Betty Ford; actresses Tina Fey and Lara Flynn Boyle; Olympic speed skater, Shani Davis; NFL Hall of Famer, Fritz Pollard; U.S. House of Representatives, Jan Schakowsky; State Senator, Dan Kotowski.

EATS

Capt’n Nemo’s
7367 N. Clark Street
A Chicago landmark since 1971, serves up some of the “Best Soups, Best Chili and Biggest Best Subs and some of Chicago’s Best Italian Beef.”

Jamaica Jerk
1631 W. Howard Street
Is locally owned and operated by Chef Waite, who brings a culinary degree from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (CHIC) and an experienced expert with Jamaican cuisine. His menu will delights your taste buds with delicious Jamaican and Caribbean food in a fun, feel like you are on vacation, tropical atmosphere. This restaurant prides itself on made-from-scratch fare, with only top quality ingredients, including spices, vegetables, and fresh fruits.

Heartland Cafe
7000 N. Glenwood Avenue
Heartland Café opened it’s doors in 1976 with a vision to serve “good wholesome food for the mind and body”. This community favorite takes great care and effort in finding local, organic, sustainable, socially conscious ingredients whenever possible. It’s also a great place for a date.

La Cazuela
6922 N. Clark Street
This isn’t your typical mexican restaurant! La Cazuela offers delectable breakfast, vegetarian meal options, wraps, seafood, and Mexican cuisine. Every dish prepared at La Cazuela is made with fresh ingredients and cooked to perfection.

Act One Pub
1330 W. Morse Avenue
Best described as a combination of a neighborhood favorite and a destination dining experience. Features live entertainment and high quality American cuisine, so you can find all the comfort of a neighborhood pub coupled with the sophistication of a first class dining experience. There is a carefully crafted global wine and beer menu to represent the high standards you would expect in fine dining. Next door is Mayne Stage, which makes it the perfect spot to complete a special evening out on the town.

BopNGrill
6604 N. Sheridan Road
This quick-serve spot has been featured on the Food Network, in Timeout Chicago and the Redeye. It features street food with a international (mostly Korean) influences and bacon: kimchi fries; a Bavarian burger served on a pretzel with Dusseldorf mustard; Japanese chicken Katsu!

Taste of Peru
6545 N. Clark Street
Casual Peruvian BYOB eatery specializing in traditional cuisine (the owner is native to Peru) and lively native folk music.

Ethiopian Diamond II
7537 N. Clark Street
Friendly, casual restaurant and bar featuring Ethiopian stews and weekly live music.

DRINKS

Royal Coffee
6764 N. Sheridan Road
Pure Ethiopian Highland Coffee straight from the Ethiopian farm to your cup. The coffee comes from an elevation of 4,920 feet and it is grown in one of the richest coffee growing areas in Ethiopia. The beans are then sun dried by Ethiopian farmers and they are imported directly to the Royal Coffee Headquarters in Chicago. The boldness of “Royal Coffee” will keep you going through your day.

Red Line Tap
7006 N. Glenwood Avenue
Here there is a good chance you will often find yourself wrapped up in a conversation over a wide selection of domestic and imported beers, as well as classic draft offerings and cocktails.

PARKS AND INTERESTS *disclaimer – your new neighborhood has more to offer! Listed below is just a start…enjoy exploring!

Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society
1447 W. Morse Avenue
Established in 1975 by local residents who believed this Chicago neighborhood was a place too exciting not to celebrate, they find, collect, preserve and share the story of this diverse community. Today, the Society serves the community through its publications, architectural tours, and various educational and outreach efforts.

The Mile of Murals
Glenwood Avenue
An 10 year, ongoing, community-based public art initiative to paint a full mile of murals along the CTA Red Line track from Estes Avenue to Pratt Boulevard along the Glenwood Avenue train line. The project will result in 19 large-scale murals: ten block-long walls, seven viaduct walls, and two overpasses. New artists and themes are selected every year through a specific selection process determined by arts professionals and community leaders.

Emil Bach House
7415 N. Sheridan Road
The Bach House, designed for Emil Bach in 1915, is one of the last of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs for a small urban house. The house is designed with its entrance almost hidden from Sheridan Road, to ensure privacy and reflects the importance of family life, according to Wright. This is Chicago’s only Wright residence open for vacation rentals and private events.

B1E Gallery and Sculpture Garden
6902 N. Glenwood Avenue
B1E is a well known art gallery in the Glenwood Avenue Arts District. Outside is a very vibrant “sculpture garden” you can view on Glenwood Avenue.

Greenleaf Art Center
1806 W. Greenleaf Avenue
Provides studio and exhibition space for 50+ local artists and is home to five business enterprises. The center is host to a variety of exhibitions, open studio events, art salons and creative workshops throughout the year.

Loyola Park and Beach
1230 W. Greenleaf Avenue
A large, expansive beach which offers plenty of open room and sights of the famous city skyline at a distance. Loyola Park sits on approximately 21.5 acres. The field house is equipped with two gymnasiums, a woodshop, a boxing center and clubrooms available to rent out. Outside, the park offers a senior baseball and a softball field, a two-hoop basketball court, sand volleyball courts, four tennis courts, a playground, and a 2/3-mile walking trail along the beautiful beach and Lake Michigan. Beach season begins the Friday before Memorial Weekend and goes through Labor Day.

TRANSPORTATION

The L
Easy access to the CTA Red Line services this area. Stations are located at Loyola, Morse, Jarvis and Howard.

Bus
Bus #22 (Clark) or #147 (Outer Drive Express) are also accessible for this neighborhood.

Proximity to Downtown
Obviously there is a bit of fluctuation depending on where exactly you live within the neighborhood, but Rogers Park is approximately 12 miles from Chicago’s Downtown Loop. Driving (without traffic) would yield about 25 minutes taking Lake Shore Drive. If traveling via the CTA, allow approximately 55 minutes.

Surrounding Areas
Edgewater, Andersonville, West Ridge and the city of Evanston are your closest neighbors. The awesome thing about the surrounding neighborhoods is that they offer up different atmospheres that are unique to them…and quite honestly, that’s what makes Chicago great.

 

 

 

Chicago Property Management

Staying Safe And Warm Over The Holidays

By | Property Management

Here at Lofty, we  want to see people be warm and safe over the holidays, perhaps curled up by the fireplace or sipping hot cocoa. It can be easy to get distracted with the all the holiday excitement going on, but there some things you pay attention to, in order to avoid an unfortunate incident over the holidays. For example, did you realize a best practice is to keep flammable material at least three feet away from any heat source (i.e. furnace, space heater, fireplace) and Christmas trees with lights? Did you know the curtains are commonly overlooked as flammable material?.Here are a few key tips to staying warm and safe over the holidays.

Doors and Windows

We have already gotten a taste of the Chicago cold and as Chicagoans, we know it is about to become really cold. Chicago winters can bring ice, snow, and below zero temperatures. The easiest way to keep the home insulated is by closing windows and doors, securely. You may want to consider putting plastic on the windows and making sure you have a draft guard on the door to keep warm air in and cold air out.

Furnace

Past winters have brought on extreme low temperatures. A reputable property management company will be able to assist with a checklist of “winter proofing” tasks for your home. The name of the game is minimizing emergencies during this frigid season. For example, conduct a furnace maintenance inspection to keep the furnace working properly. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the furnace, as well as, keep a “kid free zone” around the furnace avoid any unnecessary accidents. Also, test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work. To see more tips, check out Lofty’s blog on Winterizing Your Home.

Space Heaters

Electric space heaters need to be plugged into a wall socket, not an extension cord. Most extension cords can’t handle the extra wattage a space heater needs, so take an extra precaution and check to make sure the space heater is properly rated and grounded.

Home is where the hearth is / The hearth / Fireplace safety tips

We have yet to meet someone who did not enjoy the warmth and coziness of a fire in the fireplace. The fireplace, to be working properly and safely, should be properly maintained. Read more fire safety tips.

Tips to warm your home and enjoy the holidays with a fire is:

  1. Have proper fireplace tools on hand, like a pick, brush and a shovel. The pick will help position the wood around the hearth while the brush and shovel will help make cleaning up the leftover ash quick. Do not have the tools on hand? It might be worth contacting your property management company (or landlord) to see if they can supply those and instructions on how to use.
  2. New, dry wood is the best food for the fire and will keep the warmth for a cozy evening at home.
  3. A fireplace screen will be helpful to keep the sparks in the fireplace and not on the carpet, rug, floor or a person.

A fireplace, under the proper supervision is a comfy, memory making staple during the holidays. Remember to never leave a fire burning unattended. A fire in the fireplace is not an intentional, constant, source of heat for the whole home (nor is an oven!), but rather something to look forward to on a cold day, after a long commute, or just an excuse to curl under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa.

Vacations

For the snow bunnies who escape the Chicago cold for warmer weather, it is important to care for the home while away. Whether it is for a short weekend getaway or for the entire winter season. If your home or rental will be unoccupied for more than a day, it is recommended to turn your heat down…not off. An ideal temperature is 66 degrees, per the Chicago Building Ordinance. Low heat, or even heat that has been turned off, runs the risk of pipes freezing and bursting.  Another tip if planning on leaving is setting various lights on timers. This will give the illusion that your home is still occupied while you are away to discourage intruders.

Christmas Trees

If you choose to celebrate the holiday with a live tree, be sure it stays fresh and keep it watered. For if it dries out, it can become a fire hazard. Keep the trees away from hot lights and open flames. Artificial trees are a lot safer especially with modern LED lights that run cooler, but they sure do not give off that pine fresh scent!

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

 

Chicago property management

5 Simple Tips For Writing A Great Rental Property Ad

By | Leasing

The first step in finding a great tenant is getting their attention! A few tips for writing a really great rental property ad can go a long way in quickly securing a qualified tenant that is respectful to your property and pays on-time!

Have you ever browsed through the rental property ads on sites like Zillow, Trulia, Zumper, Rad Pad or Craigslist? Some ads grab your attention while others you flip right past. Following these simple steps can help you create the attention grabbing ads that will get your property rented in a timely fashion.
#5. Attention Getters

It all starts with headlines. You need to reel them in with the headline and pique their interest so they can’t wait to learn more. Two examples:

  • 2bd / 1ba
  • 2 Large Bedrooms, 1 Oversized Bathroom

Both say there is a place that has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. By adding certain exciting, descriptive details, you can increase interest. You want to keep the headline short and snappy and give just enough information to make someone want to learn more!

Here are two more examples:

  • 2 Large Bedrooms, 1 Oversized Bathroom
  • 2 large, airy bedrooms with GREAT VIEWS and a SUPER-SIZED bathroom

See how adding just a couple of words with capitalization makes them pop so much more? Use ADJECTIVES in the headline and capitalize them.

#4. Hold Nothing Back

It is ideal to fill the space available as you tell the story of why this home is the perfect home for the reader. Make sure to talk about the amenities of the property and where it is located; include information on the conveniences like shopping, restaurants and parks nearby. It is up to you to bring the property to life through your words, allowing the prospective renter to picture themselves living there and what it might feel like. That feeling they get—from the right renter—it is worth every second of work you have done and is key to establishing a solid relationship.

You can use words that offer information about the little details of the rental. Some good examples of that are: “charming chair rails”, “vintage hardwoods”, “move in ready” or “turnkey”. The main idea here is that words matter to spark interest and achieve your desired results. Be descriptive in your explanation to create an opportunity for the reader to make a mental image of themselves enjoying their new space.

#3. Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

Actually, a great photo says 1,000 of the right words that will yield more interest, more showings, and a reduced market time. Great photography truly does more to convey than any words ever could.

The trick to photographing a space is using the geometry to your advantage. Stand in the corner of the room, preferably a doorway, and aim the camera in a direction that arranges all vertical lines straight up and down. When combined with horizontal surfaces that appear to zoom out of the frame from the farthest point from the viewer, the room appears to continue past the edge of the photo which gives the impression of more space. At Lofty, we offer in-house professional photography because we know from proven experience how important photos are to the end goal.

Natural light is a photographer’s best friend when utilized correctly. The on-camera flash creates harsh and direct lighting from the front that casts a cold, blue color over the subject and a hard shadow. Natural light mixed with interior lighting can help you achieve softened shadows and highlights with a smooth gradation that helps to create a visual balance through the image.

#2. Priced To Move

Being direct with your rent price is definitely the way to go. If you aim lower than you will actually charge, with the intent to attract more attention, it will be the kind of attention you don’t want: renters who cannot afford your rent. If you price too high and don’t budge, renters will look elsewhere without so much as an email. When you are secure with your pricing, you will attract the renters you want.

If you start far enough in advance of your vacancy date, you can allow the market to help you find the right price. By starting a bit higher and adjusting incrementally, the market will guide your price based on attention.

#1. Finally, Last Step!

Check and recheck the advertisement for spelling, grammar and pricing accuracy before you publish. Even if you are sure about your writing abilities, have someone else review to double check that it makes sense and is easy to understand. Follow these guidelines to make sure your ad stands out and beats the competition!

 

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your property’s listing.

 

The Ultimate Guide To Listing At The Right Price

By | Property Management

Are you looking to lease your property and not sure what price to list? Here at Lofty, we’ve had the experience of listing hundreds of properties in the Chicagoland area. In this guide, we share exactly how to list your property like a professional.

Choosing a rental price for your home or condo can be a tricky task. You don’t want to set the price low and miss out, but you don’t want to ask too much. No one wants to be that house that has been listed for six months. Like a teenager without a date to the prom, this is something to be avoided at all costs. Staying realistic is the key, along with a little legwork and market research. As a landlord your goal is to minimize vacancy to boost profitability and reduce risks associated with an unoccupied place.

When tasked with setting an accurate rent price, your first instinct may be to charge as much as the market can bear. But there are some things to consider before choosing a rental price.

Know The Market

Market demand will dictate your rent price. To get the best idea of what the current market demand is in your area, assess value. A first simple step is to have a look at similar properties available for rent in your area to gauge what price they are listed for rent. From Craigslist to Zillow and even the classified section of your local newspaper—if you like to kick it old school—can be great starting points.

Determining Market Value

The best next step is to consult a real estate professional to secure a Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA will evaluate similar, recently rented units (called comparables or comps) that are near your property. These comps assist in establishing the current market value of your property. There are several factors to keep in mind when reviewing rented comps: price, market time, seasonality, location compared to your property, room sizes, amenities, and so on.

With these comps in mind, along with the active listings previously discussed, you are now prepared to analyze the data to achieve your list price. Get your analytical thinking hat on and strap in! Or leave it to the professionals at Lofty who offer you a free market analysis!

This process should be repeated each and every time you relist your property to account for any market shifts. Even the most experienced real estate professionals rely on an accurate CMA to determine the market price. For example, if there is a downturn in the economy the demand for rental properties may increase as people can no longer afford to buy their own homes and will choose to rent instead. A dip in the economy may also benefit landlords who own smaller properties and apartments as people look to downsize in order to save money. The general rule of thumb is that the greater the demand the higher the rent you can charge, and visa versa.

It also doesn’t hurt to be competitive. Offering a slightly lower price than the average comparable property in your area may win over a renter quicker.

Think Like A Tenant

Imagine your potential renters and how they are searching for their next home. If their max rent price is $1,800, they are likely to set $1,800 as their maximum search price. If you were to set your pricing at $1,850 or $1,900 with the willingness to negotiate less, you may be unintentionally missing out on potential renters.

Additionally, it may not add value to your listing to market your price ending in a $50 increment, like $1,850, since most search criteria increases in $100 increments. The $50 increment puts you in limbo with the inability to take advantage of viewers who are the next tier down. Take the plunge and lower another $50, it will pay off with a faster turnaround.

Rent Is Based On Desire

The desirability of your property will play a huge role in how much rent you can charge. If your property has very little amenities or upgrades or is in need of a lot of work, renters will not be willing to pay top dollar. The more attractive your property is, the more you will likely be able to charge. The following are some of the most sought-after features in Chicago, which should be taken into consideration:

  • Vista – What will your tenants see when they draw their curtains in the morning? A view of Lake Michigan or a park is more desirable than a view of a the exterior of the building next door.
  • Altitude – If your apartment is in a high-rise building, the higher levels are more desirable. Ground floor or garden apartments can be less desirable to some renters, due to security concerns and the possibility of flooding in heavy rains.
  • Area – Value increases with square footage. In most cases, the greater area your property has the more desirable it is. There is one caveat though: how well your space is used plays a major role.
  • Beds/Baths – Value increases in any market as bedrooms and bathrooms increase.
  • Storage – From closet space to a basement or storage locker to a garage, any and all extra space is a bonus and should increase desire.
  • Updates/Upgrades  – The more modern your property is, the better. Homes with modern, updated appliances are far more desirable than those with outdated features and finishes. Even ‘vintage’ can get old

The Right Price Is Attractive

If your property has been listed for a 2-3 weeks but you are not flooded with viewing requests, the price is likely a turn-off. Whether it is too high or too low, your audience will make assumptions. If a potential tenant thinks you are under-charging based on market demand, they may believe there is something wrong with the property.

You may find that using interest to find the “Goldilocks”, or perfect price point for your property is a solid tactic. Ideally, in the first couple of weeks that your property is new to the market you should receive 10-20 inquiries. And inquiries lead to showings!

Ideally, most landlords also want to make a profit. On average, a landlord pockets anywhere from zero to seven percent of the monthly rental income as profit. If the property is not benefiting you in some way, you might have set the rent too low, or worse, you might have over invested. Regardless of your goals, the right rent should, at the very minimum, cover all your expenses on the property. These include mortgage repayments (if you have one) as well as maintenance and repairs. If the value of your rental property does not meet or exceed this criteria, it may be time to consult an experienced, professional Leasing and/or Property Management service like Lofty to help get your investment back on the right track.

 

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

 

7 Security Tips for Property Owners

By | Property Management

Here at Lofty, we understand that life can sometimes be tough for a landlord or property manager. You have to deal with a lot of issues that many people simply do not want to deal with. However, promoting a safe and secure living environment in your buildings does not have to be complicated. Here are some basic safety and security measures you can take to improve the safety of the home, units or complex for your tenants.

#7. Secure Entry

Door locks can vary widely in number and type from building to building. It might depend on the preference of the landlord and tenant. It may be important to discuss this together to come to some sort of agreement. The locks can be old fashioned and this may make the tenant feel less safe. Modern locks make the home more current and sometimes safer.

Lost keys do not have to be a scary situation. Partnering with a local, trusted locksmith will prove to be invaluable. They can offer fast, reliable services based on the needs of your properties. In the event of specialized key systems, additional deposits and fees included upfront will ensure you are not financially liable in the event of an accident or negligence.

#6. Secure Units

Though it may seem like common knowledge, urge tenants to lock their doors at night and when they are not home. Even if the building seems safe, they still need to lock their doors if they want to prevent an unwanted intruder. Regardless of the time the tenant has spent in the property, a locked door is a safe door.

Some tenants may be moving in with valuable belongings. As such, they may only be interested in buildings with security systems monitored by an off-site service. If a tenant is already occupying your space, and expresses an interest in having a home security system installed, consider footing the bill for installation in all units, as this can be an investment that may make your vacant units more marketable in the future.

#5. Safe Passage

Did you know that there are sometimes financial benefits to making your multi-unit property safer? Consult with you insurance adjuster to discover all the ways you may save money on your policy. Consider installing locks on exterior gates or fences around the property. Additionally, exterior lighting, especially in secluded, dark areas, can be a huge safety plus for your tenants. Proximity or motion sensors and a timer will ensure these lights are not wasting energy while contributing to the overall safety and security at your property.

Let’s face it: this is Chicago and the weather is always going to cause a problem for someone, somewhere in the city. If it rains and tenants are coming home at night, you might want to have no slip strips to prevent falling. The exterior lights can help here, too. Even inside the building, it helps to secure the stairs. If it is carpeting make sure it is secured with tackless strip, just as a professional would install it. This may help prevent accidents for which you could be liable.

#4. Private Eyes

Installing security cameras is another option for safety and security. From large apartment buildings where people might not know who is in and out of their building, to multi-unit walkups occupied by familiar faces, a prominently displayed security camera can be an effective deterrent for criminal activity. While some states have a one party consent rule for recording, Chicago is in Illinois, a two party consent state. That means you must obtain written consent from your tenants, and keep a record of it, before installing the recording equipment. If a security camera system is not in the budget, a decoy camera (that looks real but does not actually record) can also be a deterrent—at a fraction of the cost and without requiring the consent of your tenants.

#3. Fire Prevention

Fire safety is not a thing to be taken lightly in your properties. Placing a fire extinguisher in a glass case in common areas or hallways can not only raise the property value and aesthetic appeal of your building, it also makes it safer. Additionally, consider fire extinguisher storage in individual units as well.

Providing basic fire safety tips for tenants can also go a long way. Check out our complete review of fire safety tips.

#2. Communicate Together

It is important to maintain the professional relationship between landlord and tenant but also remain friendly and light whenever possible. Consistent behavior like this can help foster a trusting relationship that does not cause stress. Sometimes people’s livelihood, families, or pets are concerned. Landlords should be respectful of their tenant’s wishes and tenants should respect their landlord’s boundaries.

#1. Special Care

If the tenant is elderly, has a health problem, or has a pet, they may need special accommodations. The landlord may need to check on them sometimes even if it’s a friendly email or phone call.

When you have successfully curated a safer and more secure environment, share your safety tips with your tenants. Just knowing you took the time to put together safety tips on their behalf could help them feel comforted and secure in their new space. Also provide a safety tip overview before new tenants move in, along with their welcome package.

Here at Lofty, it is our hope that these measures help make everyone feel comforted and secure in your properties. The home should be a comforting place, a place one comes to at the end of their day to feel safe and secure.

However, we know that property management is not for everyone. In fact, we embrace that fact and are eager to help take the headaches of owning a property off of your plate if you find it is not for you. Talk to us today and find out how we can help you live the life you deserve.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

5 Reasons Photography Really Matters When Renting Your Property In Chicago

By | Property Management

Advertising your property to potential tenants is very similar to a job interview. You want your property to be displayed in an appealing manner that compels potential tenants to contact you for a viewing. Set your property up for success with a “fitted suit” and invest in great quality photography. You want your property to make a great first impression every time a potential tenant scrolls through the photo gallery. This is why photography really matters when renting your property. If your property photos are lacking in quality or number your property may be viewed as unappealing on the web.

Did you know that after specifics and price, photographs are the top three reasons that can make or break a potential tenant’s opinion of your place during their rental search? With that being said, strong photography can be the deciding factor in getting tenants from the web to the doorstep.

1. Curb Appeal

Most property managers and real estate agents are familiar with the terminology, “curb appeal”, but just in case, curb appeal by definition is the attractiveness a property exudes from a street view (curbside view, if you will). Well, you can create web curb appeal by having great shots of your property’s exterior displayed at the beginning of a photo gallery. After all this is the first impression a property has on potential tenants, who physically visit the property.

For single family homes make sure the law and hedges are well manicured for exterior photos. It is best to take exterior photos during a sunny day when there is great natural sunlight. However, if this is not a possibility, try having the photos taken at dusk with inside lights on. This will create a warm welcoming glow from the inside of the house.   

For apartments in large buildings an exterior photo might consist of an artful shot of the actual building itself showcasing the building’s address and main entrance. If it’s a high-rise with great amenities, such as a pool or track, those would also be excellent additional exterior shots, which could add to the property’s curb appeal.

2. The Inside Counts

Don’t skimp on interior photos! If you have a lovely picture of the exterior property, but lack an abundance of interior photos, an alarm goes off in the minds of your potential tenants. “Why aren’t they showing me the interior? Is something wrong with it?” Photographs shouldn’t evoke more questions but should instead provide answers to them. Basic questions like “What is this space like?” and “Can I see myself living there?” So don’t leave potential tenants hanging with questions or the likelihood of them calling for a viewing decreases.

To adequately answer potential tenants’ burning questions, create a virtual tour of the apartment through a photo gallery. Start with an exterior photo, then work your way into the property. Showcase the flow of the space by using photos taken from doorways into a room. Follow with photos from the opposite side towards the doorway to show off all your space has to offer! Giving potential tenants a 360 degree view from flattering angles can better demonstrate the layout of a space, and allows them to imagine living in your property.

3. Eye Candy

From image galleries that offer a virtual tour of your property to eye-catching advertisement photos, professional photographs of your property need to welcome potential tenants into a space. Professional photos offer a great backdrop to let potential tenants begin imagining all the future possibilities of living in a property’s space. Create a flow to your gallery, being sure to pick the best shots of your property. Not only can this give future renters a virtual tour, but also creates a story of which potential tenants would like to be a part. The key is in highlighting the best aspects of the property. For example: maybe there’s a wonderful built-in kitchen nook that gets exceptional sunlight during the afternoon… Renters will delight at the photo of this feature that you have displayed with pride!

4. Size Matters

Strong real estate photographs should demonstrate the dimensions of rooms in an ideal way. Unsure of how to optimize space? Begin by decluttering shelves, mantels, and other surface areas to create the ideal living condition and help visually open up the space. When surfaces are cluttered and packed with personal items, it can make the room feel crowded. Cluttered surfaces can also distract tenants from the actual space, as they are more focused on the things currently taking up the space.

Furniture and decor should also help emphasize the size and flow of the property. Tenants will enjoy visualizing themselves living in your property, so it may be necessary to remove or hide personal photographs before the photographs are taken as well as during viewings. This will allow potential tenants to focus more clearly on the space rather than the current occupants.

We have this piece of wisdom that we consider immensely important: make sure the toilet seat is down when the bathroom is photographed. While this has little to do with space, it has everything to do with creating an appealing image.

5. Time Saver

Photographs can work in your favor to separate potential tenants, who are actually interested in the property, from individuals who are not. This is why strong photography is so important to marketing your rental property. You want someone to be able to go through the image gallery and feel like they just walked through the home. Your property may be designed and built with care and taste, but if the photos are grainy with poor lighting and look like they were shot with a mobile device camera by an amateur in a hurry, you are certainly not doing it any service.

Get Professional Help

Truly, the way to good photos is by enlisting the help of a professional photographer. The images they make can help your property stand out for all the right reason on the web and marketing efforts for years to come. When you’re having trouble filling a vacancy, you can rest easy that your photos are not the issue. Eliminating one more variable in the equation will allow focus on accurately pricing the property.

Just like dressing to impress to land a great new job, great photos of a clean space work to create a great first impression to potential buyers. But maybe this just seems complicated or  sounds like too much to take on alone. Here at Lofty, we provide guidance and counsel to help better manage your investments. From high-quality photos and ads for your vacancy to first-class property and tenant management, Lofty can help to free up your time to live the life you deserve. Get in touch today to see how we can help your investment.

 

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, we’re here to help.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

Why Reserve Funds Are Important When Managing A Property

By | Property Management

It’s 2AM and you receive a panicked call from a tenant: it’s raining in their living room! Upon inspection of the leak, it appears a new roof is needed. How will you pay for the new roof as well as the interior water damage? How much should you have in reserve funds?

While emergency maintenance is every property manager’s worst nightmare, having an appropriate amount of reserve funds can help nightmares from becoming an unpleasant reality. No one wants to end up filing for bankruptcy because one property sat vacant for 3 months while another needed major repairs, draining reserve funds and digging a hole deep into debt. As you may imagine, crawling out from such a place can be very challenging. Inadequate reserve funds or a complete lack of them could quickly snowball into a financial crisis for property managers.

Fear not! We have some tips to help you determine the appropriate amount of funding for your property portfolio.

Reserve funds are necessary to handle anything and everything from routine maintenance and upkeep to emergency maintenance and unplanned vacancies. So how much reserve funding is the appropriate amount for you? Here are our pro tips, compiled by experts, to consider when determining how much to keep in your reserve property funds.

Quantitative Factor

The number of properties within your portfolio is important to consider when calculating the appropriate amount of funds to have in reserve. Each property should have its own reserve fund. This will insure each property has its own coverage for maintenance and unplanned vacancies. Since each property has different costs associated with it’s upkeep and expenses, having separate accounts will help keep each property’s reserve funds available to that specific property only. Having multiple accounts allows you to focus on each property’s small picture and how it fits into the bigger picture of your overall property investment.

If you have multiple properties operating out of one reserve fund it is easy to disproportionately attribute more or less reserve funds to each of your current properties. This could end up leaving you in a risky position, under the right circumstances. It is our advice to maintain appropriate reserve levels for each property. Working with one account per property allows you to maintain those levels individually, and makes things easier on you come tax season.

Maintaining a separate account for each property has other benefits too! Cash flow from your property portfolio is also an important aspect in regards to building reserve funds. It’s wise to have a portion of each incoming rental payment invested into that specific property’s reserve fund. This allows for continual replenishment of funds, which were used while also allowing for saving towards future maintenance projects.

Set standards for your tenant pool, then make sure you screen everyone to the same standard. Some of the worst tenants around come from a friend of a friend’s mother’s cousin. (What even is that?) Do not bend your requirements and screen everyone equally.

Age Factor

The age of the property is an important factor to take into account when determining reserve funds. Older properties are more likely to need repairs and possibly more upkeep. Meaning the older the property, the more reserve funds are needed to mitigate property risks. For example an older property may need to upgrade the plumbing or electrical as the originals were installed in 1922. However, this wouldn’t be a foreseeable issue in a newer property featuring plumbing that was installed in 2002.

Reserve funds come in handy on all types of repairs, from the predictable to the unpredictable. For example, let’s say your reserved funds are $5,000 and you’re planning on replacing some of the outdated plumbing in one of your properties. So, you’ve been using monthly cash inflows to build your reserve funds account to pay for these planned repairs. Your account now has $6,500 in it— now the surplus of $1,500 in reserved funds can be used for your plumbing repairs!

Conversely, if an emergency situation occurs then the $5,000 in reserved funds would be used. For example, a stove in one of your properties has stopped working and needs to be replaced. You pick-up a new stove for $500, which comes out of your reserved funds. This brings your reserved funds down to $4,500. You will now use your monthly cash inflows to build your reserved funds back to $5,000.

As a landlord you are open to liability all the time. Ensure that you have enough insurance to cover you in case anything goes wrong.

Operating Factor

Paying monthly operating expenses while properties are occupied isn’t a problem, as rental payments cover these expenses. However, what happens when a tenant moves out and the property sits vacant? How will you pay the mortgage, insurance, taxes and other fees? If you don’t have reserve funds or your funds are inadequate you will end up paying these expenses out of pocket, which could get expensive if the property sits vacant for months on end. These expenses can also be compounded if the vacant property ends up needing repairs.

This is yet another time when reserve funds are needed to protect your investment. While you are working to fill the property your reserve funds can be utilized to pay the monthly fees that would normally be covered through rental payments.

Growth Factor

If you’re thinking about expanding your property portfolio or just beginning one, but are in need of outside funding from either investors or a financial institution, many will have specific reserve fund standards you’ll need to meet before being approved. These investment reserve fund requirements allow investors to insure their return on investment, thus protecting them from a possible loss.

For example Quicken Loans requires six months of reserve funds. These funds must cover rental payments (including taxes, insurance, and other fees) as well as two months of reserves for every property already in your portfolio. It’s also important to remember when working with investors that many will require proof of seasoned accounts, meaning the money has remained in the account(s) for 60 days. This further safeguards their investment in your portfolio.

When expanding into new property investments remember reserve funds should not be used for investing in new properties. These are not funds to purchase more real estate. These funds are safeguarding each of your current real estate investments so be sure to only use reserve funds for those specific purposes (i.e. expenses due to vacancies, maintenance). It’s important to remember these funds are reserves for a reason, they are there for your property’s protection and are an investment in the longevity of your property and shouldn’t be used unless necessary or planned.

Do you already have all your reserved funds up to par and then some? Kudos to you! However, if you’re a little worried about your property’s ability to generate the necessary cash flow to maintain adequate reserves, give us a ring! We truly would love to hear from you because here at Lofty, we love to help. It is our goal to take the tedious tasks of management out of your hands and free your time to live the life you deserve while maximizing your investment. Get in touch today to learn more!

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

 

8 Habits of Successful Real Estate Investors

By | Property Management

Whether you are a fledgling investor, looking to make your first deal or a seasoned investor, chances are you could use a few tips to make your investments a success. Many people view real estate investment as a quick and easy way to make money, when in fact it requires a lot of work and know-how. Here at Lofty, we know that knowledge is power so we have gathered a list of habits that successful real estate investors have in common.

1. They Treat Their Investment Like A Business

Real estate is an investment, and successful investors know this. Like any successful business, they have a business plan with set goals. Outlining what you want to accomplish through real estate will help guide you toward what you want. Putting in place both short-term and long-term goals will help you keep your eye on the prize when you experience a minor setback—and you will probably experience your fair share. However, this is all part of growing your successful business. In addition, do not forget to add new goals as you accomplish the ones you already have in place

2. They Are Realistic With Time Management

Real estate investment can be time consuming and successful investors are aware of this. It is not uncommon for a young investor to bite off more than they can chew by taking on too many properties quickly. As experience grows, so does the ability to handle a larger portfolio.

The learning process, property management, and other details related to running a business will all take more time than many realize. When you are first starting out, it is likely that you will still have your regular full-time job and running your real estate investment business will be done during your off time. You could quickly find yourself overwhelmed if you do not take things one step at a time and pace yourself.

(If you’re just getting started check out our Top Ten Property Management Tips For Landlords)

3. They Invest In Their Education

Successful real estate investors do their research. They are constantly staying up to date on the current market trends. Not only that, they also stay up on what is going on outside of real estate: How is the economy; What is the unemployment rate; How are the schools in the area; What is the crime rate? All of these things affect real estate value and ultimately rent prices and successful investors know this. Staying up to date on these things helps you be prepared and aware of potential problems or potential opportunities.

It is somewhat common to think that if you can, you should. However, if you are capable but unskilled, the time it takes to complete a task quickly compounds. Consider your options and compare against the value of your time. You may find that it is cheaper to hire someone skilled than to attempt to save money by doing it yourself.

4. They Are Niche Experts

There is a familiar saying: “Do what you know,” and successful real estate investors agree. Becoming an expert in a certain area of real estate allows you to develop expertise that is important to long-term success in real estate. A diversified portfolio is important in any type of investment, so once you become confident with your expertise in one niche, use the same approach to mastering another. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master in a specific area. Keeping this in mind can help if you find yourself becoming impatient.

5. They Seek Advice From More Experienced Investors

Books are helpful, but a large part of real estate investment is learned through experience. Successful real estate investors know the importance of building a network of other people involved in real estate. Adding a mentor who is more experienced to your network will give you someone to bounce ideas off of and seek advice from. Think of your business network as your own personal “think tank”; a community of like minds who all want to see each other succeed.

6. They Operate With High Ethical Standards

If you want to be successful in real estate, expect to be in it for the long haul. In order to last in this business, it is important to hold yourself to a high level of ethics and standards. There are times where it might be easier to misrepresent a property or take advantage of a situation, but in the end the truth always comes out. In this business, a good recommendation goes far, but a bad one goes even farther, and can be incredibly damaging to your reputation. Successful investors know that important ethical business practices are imperative to creating a successful and long-lasting business. 

7. They Know Relationships Are Key

A major component of investing in real estate is working with people. And not just renters! Anyone with whom you have a business relationship should be treated with respect, courtesy, and patience. Successful real estate investors are also successful customer service providers. It is important to listen and pay attention to detail. Should a problem arise, handle it courteously and as timely as possible. Happy renters and other individuals with whom you have business or professional dealings are the best promoters of your business. In the same respect, maintaining a positive relationship with vendors is just as important; professional and prompt communication will insure that they continue working with you and referring others to you as well.

8. They Know Where to Best Spend Their Time

In general, successful people know the limits of their expertise. So, it stands to reason that successful real estate investors will eventually reach that point. One of the first people whose advice you want to seek is that of a reputable accountant. It is important to find someone that has a demonstrated understanding of current tax laws who you can trust to handle your books. Doing this right away will keep your finances in order and save you money in the end. Successful investors also establish a professional relationship with a lawyer whose services are useful in drawing up contracts, leases, or eviction proceedings should the need ever arise.

Real estate investment is hard work and if done correctly in the end it can be quite lucrative. If you just read this list and thought to yourself, “Wow, I really want to invest, but I don’t think I have the time.” Or maybe you just are not sure where to begin. Here at Lofty we are here to help you every step of the way. Whether you are a newbie that wants to invest but does not know where to begin, or a veteran investor that wants to take a step back and let someone else take the reins, give us call and learn how we will leverage our expertise and experience to create a plan that is right for you.

 

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

property management chicago

Top 5 Amenities Renters Are Looking For In Chicago

By | Property Management

You have a great property for rent in a prime location in Chicago, but you’re not the only one out there. What can you do to make your rental stand out from the others? Nowadays, it’s all about the amenities; those little extras that add more value to an apartment in the eyes of renters. Not only can this added value cause you to stand out more to potential tenants, but it can also mean increased rent and renter retention.

1. High-Speed Wireless Internet

Let’s face it: the internet has become a major part of life. It has become so important to daily American life that the most desired amenity feature among renters is high-speed wireless internet access. Most people have multiple devices, such as laptops, tablets, and gaming systems, that require simultaneous internet access. Renting an apartment that has high-speed wireless internet included is a huge bonus to most potential renters. It’s one less expense they have to worry about and gives them a sense of added value when considering your apartment.

2. Outdoor Space

We might be a little biased, but Chicago has the best summers. What better way to enjoy a beautiful summer day than to invite friends over to enjoy the day by grilling out on your balcony or patio. Outdoor space is a huge selling point to potential renters, so it’s important to evaluate your options. Maybe a patio or balcony is not a feasible option, consider a shared rooftop deck. A well-designed rooftop deck is just as attractive to many potential tenants as a private balcony or patio.

3. In-Unit Washer & Dryer

Nobody likes to go to the laundromat, so it is not surprising that one of the most desired amenities for renters is an in-unit washer and dryer. For many, the lack of an in-unit washer and dryer is a deal breaker. If your units do not currently have this amenity, it is definitely a good idea to consider. If in-unit washers and dryers are not something you are able to provide, an alternative option would be to provide a shared laundry space. Many potential renters do not mind taking their laundry down a couple of floors to the laundry room. This is still a better option than lugging it down the street to the laundromat.

4. Upgraded Kitchen

The heart of a home is the kitchen and one of the most desired amenities among renters is an upgraded kitchen. Potential renters are looking for things that will make life easier for them such as a dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, and a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser. A great looking kitchen is important to potential renters as well. Style upgrades such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances often top the list. It may not be possible for you to include everything but picking a few key items such as a dishwasher and, at the least, matching appliances can go a long way to securing your desired tenant with minimal market time.

5. Fitness Center

Healthy living and exercise can be very important to many people. Having an onsite fitness center is a very attractive amenity to many potential renters. This makes staying fit easier because potential renters don’t even have to leave their building, and it also saves them the trouble of having to pay extra for a gym membership somewhere. A fitness center does not need to be anything huge or elaborate. Most potential renters are happy with a bright airy room with a place for stretching, free weights, and high-quality equipment, such as a treadmill, elliptical, cycle, and a stepper. If a fitness center is not something you can provide, consider reaching out to a local gym to see if a partnership can be made.

As an investor, staying on top of trends and knowing which are the most beneficial to your potential renters is an important part to acquiring and managing property effectively. It can be stressful and time consuming trying to determine what is best for your next purchase or current property. Here at Lofty, it is part of our job to stay on top of the trends to know what renters are looking for in your neighborhood. We consider ourselves experts in knowing how to make your property stand out to potential renters.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

Chicago Pre-Move-In Checklist

By | tenants

We know moving to a new home can be a crazy time, so to help make the transition as smooth as possible we have prepared a list of items that will help you prepare for your upcoming move and settling into your new home.

1. Transfer Your Utilities

Prior to the first day of your lease agreement, you will need to transfer all applicable utilities into your name.  At the end of your lease you will need to transfer the utilities out of your name. Please do not shut utilities off at the end of your lease, as the new tenants will be transferring the utilities into their names.  Depending on which utilities are included in your rent (see your lease agreement), you will likely need to contact the below utility companies in order to start your gas & electricity services.  Please note that cable, telephone and Internet providers vary by service area.

2. Forward Your Mail

Contact the United States Postal Service (USPS) as far ahead of your move-in date as possible to notify them of your new address so your mail will be properly forwarded.

3. Obtain Renter’s Insurance

We highly recommend you obtain renter’s insurance.  Maintaining renter’s insurance protects your personal property in the unlikely event that it becomes damaged or stolen. Please understand that neither the owner of your unit nor Lofty is responsible for any damage to your personal belongings. We recommend you contact your insurance agent for more information on obtaining renter’s insurance.

4. Schedule Your Move-in with the Condominium Association

If your new home is located in a condominium association, it’s likely you will need to schedule your move with the condominium association management company directly.  Please note that many condominium associations require you to complete move-in forms and submit move-in fees and/or deposits prior to your move.   Failure to properly schedule your move-in with the condominium association may result in penalties and/or a delay in your move date.  If you need help hiring a moving company to help you move into your new place please feel free to reach out to your property manager for a recommendation from our network of trusted vendors.

5. Schedule Your Walk-through with Lofty

Your primary property manager will contact you ahead of your move-in to welcome you to your new home and schedule an initial walk-through of your unit.  The walk-through is intended to document the condition of your new home at the time of move in.  A second walk-through will be scheduled at move out.

And that’s it! If you take a few minutes out of your day to follow these 5 simple tips the move into your new home will go smoother than ever before! As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to your property manager or the team at Lofty, we are always excited to help!

best contractors chicago

How to Choose The Best Contractor for Your Remodels, Repairs & Upgrades

By | Property Management

Many times it is easier to spot a bad contractor than it is to spot a good contractor. When choosing the right contractor we want to look at their reputation, work portfolio and how they communicate with us. The right contractor should be trustworthy, have a proven track record and treat us with respect.

Being Trustworthy is one of the most important traits when choosing a contractor since they will be working on your property and be in your home. So how can we make sure someone is trustworthy?

Reputation

Reputation speaks volumes! Ask friends, family and neighbors if they can recommend a good contractor.  Someone that does good work will come highly recommended. Check out online ratings as well. People love to talk about bad contractors which can easily help you narrow down your choices.   

Reputation really is everything when it comes to contractors. If they have a strong reputation it is likely hard earned and will speak volumes about them being credible and trustworthy.

Check examples of their work.

Occasionally you will run across a great contractor after seeing their work. Ever been to a friend’s condo and admired the new kitchen they put in? If a contractor has done a great job for a friend it’s likely they will do the same for you. Be sure to ask for their contact information at that time.

A solid contractor will have a portfolio with examples of their work that you can review. A reliable contractor will not mind showing you examples of their work.

Important Fact: Seeing examples of their work also helps you to decide if their style and yours can mesh well to accomplish your goals.

Communication

It is important that a contractor has the ability to communicate with you. Before you ever hire anyone be mindful of how long they take to call you back. Everyone gets busy so it is understandable when a contractor doesn’t call back the same day. However, you should expect a phone call within the next 24 hours. If they take longer than that to get back to you we recommend moving on and finding someone with a faster response time.

Important Fact: Even if a contractor gets back to you quickly, you also want to make sure that your questions are answered and that the contractor is patient with your questions.

Gut Instinct

Sometimes you meet a contractor and just something about them (you usually cannot put your finger on it) does not sit right with you.  No matter how great someone’s references are, or how impressive their work is, if you are not comfortable hiring them, don’t!  You do not HAVE TO hire anyone. It is your property and it is very important that you are comfortable with the person that you choose.

Nothing Beats Due Diligence

It is really up to you to do the research before you hire anyone.  You are letting this person onto your property and trusting them with costly home improvements. Make sure they can be trusted by checking references and before and after work. In addition, ask them to verify they have all the right business licenses and insurance in place.

Ask, check and then check some more.  Any contractor that is a good contractor will not mind answering your questions and providing you with proof of coverage. If they get annoyed with your diligence, run! You want a contractor that really appreciates having you as a client.

Final Tips on Choosing the Right Contractor

Once you have made the choice, be sure to get every detail in writing. Do not leave anything up to chance. A strong contract that outlines all the expectations and all the responsibilities of each party helps to keep everyone on the same page. Look to provide extensive and detailed explanations to ensure crystal-clear expectations.

One of the biggest mistakes property owners make is that they are hesitant to demand that everything be put in writing.  It can be hard to “speak up” when a contractor is promising something and say “hey, can you put that in writing in our contract”?  If it is not in writing then you cannot count on it. The right contractor will be more than willing to put all the job details in writing.

Lastly, do NOT pay for all the work up front. It is common for contractors to ask for a fee upfront to minimize their risk and cover job materials. If it is in the contract to pay a percentage up front that is fine. We do not recommend you pay more than 50% up front and do ot pay the remaining balance until you are 100% satisfied with the outcome. If you pay the full balance before the job is finished, you may have a challenging time getting them to finish the work.

You may already know and follow every one of these points. In that case, Lofty would like to congratulate you on your abilities to choose a great contractor! On the other hand, if you’re thinking to yourself, “wow, I would really like to take all of these steps,” but your life is already busy with plenty of other tasks and responsibilities, have no fear.

Here at Lofty, we love to help. We have a massive network of vetted vendors that will make sure you get the best product at the best price. Get in touch today to learn more!

 

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

property management

Top 3 Reasons People Use Property Management Services

By | Property Management

The choice to have a property professionally managed provides release from the headaches of trying to juggle too many things at once. The fact is, a large majority of us are stressed because we just can’t seem to find enough time in the day.

Here at Lofty, many of our clients have reached out to us because they simply didn’t have enough time to enjoy life on their terms. Others found themselves making the same mistakes over and over based on the fact they had no one with expertise to guide them to the right way to think about the issues at hand. Others still found a combination of issues resulting in a less than desireable return on their investment—there are a lot of folks out there who are or are planning to use their investment property as a retirement solution. That is hard to do when it is losing money.

There are three main factors that provide the reasons why property owners make the switch to a professional property management service.

Factor One: Expertise

A lot of property owners not only lack the time but they also lack the knowledge of how to deal with tenants. This is the kind of knowledge that accompanies experience. Professional expertise quickly becomes invaluable, especially in the instance of a difficult tenant.  Difficult tenants can sap your time, energy and money. A professional property management company will run pre-screening process that takes multiple steps in seeking only the right tenants.

And what if a difficult tenant evades the pre-screen? The property management company handles them! If you’ve ever had a bad tenant you know how much strife they can cause. Save yourself the hassle and hire a property management company! Many property owners find that handing over day to day management duties to a professional with expertise is an overall smarter way to do business.

Factor Two: Time

More property owners have decided to sign with a property management company in order to free-up enough time to really enjoy their lives. This rings especially true for owners who live more than 30 minutes from their property. It can be extremely pressing on your time to have to swing by for any reason other than an actual fire. Tenant phone calls can easily cross into the stressful and time-consuming territory.

There are lots of areas that need focusing on to effectively manage a property. It can quickly turn into a full time job. If there is a repair that needs to be done you will have to hire a contractor and schedule the repair. If you own more than one property, it is a burden to create a network of trusted contractors and vendors for the various tasks on your list.

When the lease is up, you will have to find tenants to rent the space! This means: producing your own photography; writing and posting your listings on all the various websites out there; field phone calls and emails, then coordinating showing times in a way that doesn’t have you driving back and forth for each one; consistently vetting all applicants; drafting legal documents from the lease to the security deposit receipt; collect and manage funds; perform move-in and move-out walkthroughs that ensure fairness and accountability; provide all necessary disclosures… Wow!

Property owners choose to have their properties managed professionally because they understand that even the greatest juggler has a limit. They also understand that the most precious commodity in any person’s life is time.

Factor Three: Profit

A professional property management company is all business and, as we all know, business is about the bottom line. There is no emotional attachment to tenants and there is no emotional attachment to the property. A quality property management company will do what is in the best interest of both the Owner and Renters, while keeping the bottom line front of mind.

This means that a property management company will:

  • lead you to make informed decisions about what is best for the property; this essentially leads to an increase in overall profits.
  • attract qualified tenants and keep your property rented; this includes pre-screening to ensure you get a reliable tenant who pays on time.
  • help you manage your income and expenses so you increase revenue.

 

Reach Out And We Will Be There

If you own a property, we would love to hear your successes and horror stories. We would also love to have a conversation about how Lofty can help you get out from under your responsibilities and back out in the world, enjoying your life. Here at Lofty, we want to help you live the life you deserve!

 

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

property management

Top 10 Property Management Tips for Landlords

By | Property Management

1. Only qualified tenants need apply!

Set standards for your tenant pool, then make sure you screen everyone to the same standard. Some of the worst tenants around come from a friend of a friend’s mother’s cousin. (What even is that?) Do not bend your requirements and screen everyone equally.

(Need tips on finding the right tenant? Follow our Ultimate Guide here)

2. Take a security deposit or admin fee!

It is fine (some might even say “kind”) to work out an agreement for someone to pay the security deposit or fee over the course of two or three payments. The most important point is to collect additional, upfront funds to mitigate risk should damages occur later on down the road.

3. Write it all down!

Objectively good, comprehensive lease agreements protect everyone. Even if the agreement is month to month, the lease is meant to protect both parties involved. It is the only smart way of doing business.

4. Provide a safe environment!

Make sure the building is secure. A good rule of thumb from a single family home to a multi-unit buildings is to provide secure locks, plenty of outside lighting and clear pathways throughout the common areas.

5. Get enough insurance coverage!

As a landlord you are open to liability all the time. Ensure that you have enough insurance to cover you in case anything goes wrong.

6. Know when to outsource repairs!

It is somewhat common to think that if you can, you should. However, if you are capable but unskilled, the time it takes to complete a task quickly compounds. Consider your options and compare against the value of your time. You may find that it is cheaper to hire someone skilled than to attempt to save money by doing it yourself.

7. Acknowledge all complaints with care!

If a tenant calls in with a complaint, it is your responsibility to let them know that you got the message. Make sure you let them know how you are going to handle the problem and keep them in the loop with the solution timetable.

(Checkout our blog about keeping renters happy.)

8. Disclose any issues to your tenants!

If there is mold in the building (or any other environmental hazard, for that matter) it is your responsibility to let your tenants know. Let them know what you are doing about it and put it in writing with proof of delivery. As a landlord you run the risk of being sued over environmental hazards if not properly disclosed.

9. Do not get emotionally involved with your tenants!

Make sure you establish a business relationship with your tenant from the beginning. Tenants tell all kinds of stories to get out of paying rent. There is a fine line that separates weakness from kindness. If the relationship is professional from the start your tenant will treat you in a professional manner, and appreciate your kindness all the more.

10. Maintain open communication!

Keep in touch with your tenants and give adequate notice when you need to get into the property. It is important to respect your tenant’s time, privacy, and the fact that they are paying you for the space.

Of course, you may already know and follow every one of these points. In that case, Lofty would like to congratulate you on your excellence in property management! On the other hand, if you’re thinking to yourself, “wow, I could really stand to improve,” but your life is already busy with plenty of other tasks and responsibilities, have no fear.

Here at Lofty, we love to help. It is our goal to take the tedious tasks of management out of your hands and free your time to live the life you want while maximizing your investment. Get in touch today to learn more!

Writing a Great Real Estate Ad

By | Leasing

Simple Tips for Writing a Great Rental Property Ad

The first step in finding a great tenant is getting their attention! A few tips for writing a really great rental property ad can go a long way in quickly securing a qualified tenant that is respectful to your property and pays on-time!

Have you ever browsed through the rental property ads on sites like Zillow, Trulia, Zumper, Rad Pad or Craigslist? Some ads grab your attention while others you flip right past. Following these simple steps can help you create the attention grabbing ads that will get your property rented in a timely fashion.

Attention Getters

It all starts with headlines. You need to reel them in with the headline and pique their interest so they can’t wait to learn more. Two examples:

  • 2bd / 1ba
  • 2 Large Bedrooms, 1 Oversized Bathroom

Both say there is a place that has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. By adding certain exciting, descriptive details, you can increase interest. You want to keep the headline short and snappy and give just enough information to make someone want to learn more!

Here are two more examples:

  • 2 Large Bedrooms, 1 Oversized Bathroom
  • 2 large, airy bedrooms with GREAT VIEWS and a SUPER-SIZED bathroom

See how adding just a couple of words with capitalization makes them pop so much more? Use ADJECTIVES in the headline and capitalize them.

perception of reality

Hold Nothing Back

It is ideal to fill the space available as you tell the story of why this home is the perfect home for the reader. Make sure to talk about the amenities of the property and where it is located; include information on the conveniences like shopping, restaurants and parks nearby. It is up to you to bring the property to life through your words, allowing the prospective renter to picture themselves living there and what it might feel like. That feeling they get—from the right renter—it is worth every second of work you have done and is key to establishing a solid relationship.

You can use words that offer information about the little details of the rental. Some good examples of that are: “charming chair rails”, “vintage hardwoods”, “move in ready” or “turnkey”. The main idea here is that words matter to spark interest and achieve your desired results. Be descriptive in your explanation to create an opportunity for the reader to make a mental image of themselves enjoying their new space.

Shots That Count

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

Actually, a great photo says 1,000 of the right words that will yield more interest, more showings, and a reduced market time. Great photography truly does more to convey than any words ever could.

The trick to photographing a space is using the geometry to your advantage. Stand in the corner of the room, preferably a doorway, and aim the camera in a direction that arranges all vertical lines straight up and down. When combined with horizontal surfaces that appear to zoom out of the frame from the farthest point from the viewer, the room appears to continue past the edge of the photo which gives the impression of more space. At Lofty, we offer in-house professional photography because we know from proven experience how important photos are to the end goal.

Natural light is a photographer’s best friend when utilized correctly. The on-camera flash creates harsh and direct lighting from the front that casts a cold, blue color over the subject and a hard shadow. Natural light mixed with interior lighting can help you achieve softened shadows and highlights with a smooth gradation that helps to create a visual balance through the image.

Priced To Move

Being direct with your rent price is definitely the way to go. If you aim lower than you will actually charge, with the intent to attract more attention, it will be the kind of attention you don’t want: renters who cannot afford your rent. If you price too high and don’t budge, renters will look elsewhere without so much as an email. When you are secure with your pricing, you will attract the renters you want.

If you start far enough in advance of your vacancy date, you can allow the market to help you find the right price. By starting a bit higher and adjusting incrementally, the market will guide your price based on attention.

Make It Sparkle

Finally, Last Step!

Check and recheck the advertisement for spelling, grammar and pricing accuracy before you publish. Even if you are sure about your writing abilities, have someone else review to double check that it makes sense and is easy to understand. Follow these guidelines to make sure your ad stands out and beats the competition!

Here at Lofty, we take every listing seriously and with great pride. We assess all variables and take every facet and detail of your situation into account when devising our marketing strategy to fill your vacancies. Get in touch today to find out how we can help maximize your marketing efforts to get the renters you want in the time-frame that works for you.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

How To Keep Renters Happy

By | Property Management

How to Keep Renters Happy

A happy, qualified tenant is the mark of a great landlord. A tenant who is happy and feels at home will stay longer, keeping you free from the marketing and leasing efforts associated with a vacancy. Tenant turnover requires considerably more work than renewing a lease, and a happy tenant who feels respected will take care of your property like it was their own. Follow these suggestions to keep your renters feeling happy and respected.

First Things First

Keep Lines OpenThe most important piece to a solid professional relationship is a lease with all necessary documentation, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations. Take care to make sure that your lease spells out everything expected from both parties. It is also important to accurately record all transactions including financials, complaints, and maintenance. By keeping all the information above-board, when a question arises, you can easily pull down the information and share it.

In the same spirit of transparency and organization, contacting your tenants by email is always strongly suggested. However, it is also a nice gesture to follow up with a phone call or even call before you send a notice out to let them know to look for it. This simple act can keep renters happy because they feel that the relationship is just a bit personal, while keeping consistent with a level of professionalism they can trust.

The Happiness Principle

The first sign of an unhappy renter? They move. You lose your income and have to start the process again to find qualified tenants. So, it works to your advantage to keep your renters happy. Long term relationships with renters are always the best. It is easier to keep the renters you have happy than it is to risk losing them and start the entire process over again. A key tip to low vacancy rates and a strong real estate investment portfolio, is doing what you can to renew the lease with the tenants you have.

Remember when pagers became cell phones? Now think of check books as pagers, and electronic payment as cell phones. In fact, many people use their mobile phones to pay online nowadays! So, offering your tenants a way to pay rent online may be more appreciated than you expect.

Open Communication

One of the easiest ways to keep renters happy is through open communication, so an ability to talk with your tenants is very important. Listening to their concerns and responding accordingly makes them aware that you are paying attention and can go a long way in keeping everyone happy. This is also beneficial as it keeps you updated on any property issues.

Build Trust In The Relationship

Keep It ClassyThe effort to build a relationship based on trust largely lies in being available and responsive when they call or email, and being proactive with routine maintenance. If your property is a multi-unit building, routine maintenance may include cleaning common hallways once a quarter and replacing any burned-out light bulbs.

Respect Your Tenants

A key factor in any relationship is respect, and so it is true of a landlord/tenant relationship. Not only is it respectful but also required by law in some places that landlords and owners provide adequate notice when there is a need to enter the property. Asking what time works best for them goes a long way if you have flexibility on the appointment. If the goal is lease renewal, helping your tenants feel safe and comfortable in their home will support that end.

When you arrive on the property greet your tenants with a smile and friendly words. A sincere compliment on their decorating, upkeep, or even their new shoes can positively impact your relationship. To borrow a line from How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, “be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” Nuances can be everything to some people, so be aware of your communication and do your best to treat others the way you would like to be treated or better.

Repairs & Maintenance

All issues brought to your attention should receive an immediate acknowledgement and response that will determine your plan of action for your tenant. However, not every issue is an emergency that must be dealt with post-haste. For example a broken water pipe will count as an emergency but a loose fence plank may not require fixing right away. It can be helpful to keep your renter in the loop and let them know on which day the work will commence. If the work will be noisy or inconvenient for other tenants, provide them advanced notice prior to the work beginning.

There are some renters that may never say a word about damages. This will cause you problems down the road. Reward good tenants’ diligence with an acknowledgement and speedy repairs. You may even want to consider discussing response times with your renters when they sign the lease so they know what to expect. A reasonable time table of repairs can help to keep renters happy.

Can Fix AnythingMaybe this goes without saying, but reliable and professional tradespeople will be invaluable to you as a property owner. From handywork to down-and-dirty repairs and installations, having a solid list of contacts on hand is huge. In the event you are out of town, share the list with your tenants in case of emergency.

Forgiveness And Understanding

Everyone runs into issues once in a while, and a little leniency can go far in business relationships. You may feel fine allowing a tenant—who is usually on time with rent—to run a little late on paying the rent, provided they have given you some notice. Sometimes, this simple gesture of understanding can make a world of difference in how you are perceived by your tenant. Forgiveness, as they say, is divine.

While there are some renters that will not be happy no matter what you do, most people are reasonable and if you are making the right effort they will respond in a positive manner.

The Truth About Success

Success of landlords can be traced back to their positive expectation set with their new residents at the beginning and throughout tenancy. If you think and speak highly of your property, their new residence, and maintain it accordingly, your tenants will be encouraged to treat your property like their own home.

A high turnover rate can stress you, your property and your finances. Doing what you can to keep your tenants happy may not always be convenient, but making sure the right thing gets done when it needs to can pay off in the long run.

Maybe you have reached this point and think, “Hmm… Pass.” Here at Lofty, we are prepared to free up your time and boost your profits. As expert professionals in Property Management, you can trust Lofty to deliver top-notch, personalized service to you and your tenants. Lofty sets the industry standard in Real Estate Concierge services, and we are eager to manage your rental properties and your tenant relationships, leaving you to enjoy your free time.

 

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

The Ultimate Guide To Listing At The Right Price

By | Property Management

The Ultimate Guide To Listing At The Right Price

Are you looking to lease your property and not sure what price to list? Here at Lofty, we’ve had the experience of listing hundreds of properties in the Chicagoland area. In this guide, we share exactly how to list your property like a professional.

what-a-viewChoosing a rental price for your home or condo can be a tricky task. You don’t want to set the price low and miss out, but you don’t want to ask too much. No one wants to be that house that has been listed for six months. Like a teenager without a date to the prom, this is something to be avoided at all costs. Staying realistic is the key, along with a little legwork and market research. As a landlord your goal is to minimize vacancy to boost profitability and reduce risks associated with an unoccupied place.

When tasked with setting an accurate rent price, your first instinct may be to charge as much as the market can bear. But there are some things to consider before choosing a rental price.

Know The Market

Market demand will dictate your rent price. To get the best idea of what the current market demand is in your area, assess value. A first simple step is to have a look at similar properties available for rent in your area to gauge what price they are listed for rent. From Craigslist to Zillow and even the classified section of your local newspaper—if you like to kick it old school—can be great starting points.

Determining Market Value

The best next step is to consult a real estate professional to secure a Comparative Market Analysis. A CMA will evaluate similar, recently rented units (called comparables or comps) that are near your property. These comps assist in establishing the current market value of your property. There are several factors to keep in mind when reviewing rented comps: price, market time, seasonality, location compared to your property, room sizes, amenities, and so on.

With these comps in mind, along with the active listings previously discussed, you are now prepared to analyze the data to achieve your list price. Get your analytical thinking hat on and strap in! Or leave it to the professionals at Lofty who offer you a free market analysis!

This process should be repeated each and every time you relist your property to account for any market shifts. Even the most experienced real estate professionals rely on an accurate CMA to determine the market price. For example, if there is a downturn in the economy the demand for rental properties may increase as people can no longer afford to buy their own homes and will choose to rent instead. A dip in the economy may also benefit landlords who own smaller properties and apartments as people look to downsize in order to save money. The general rule of thumb is that the greater the demand the higher the rent you can charge, and visa versa.

It also doesn’t hurt to be competitive. Offering a slightly lower price than the average comparable property in your area may win over a renter quicker.

Think Like A Tenant

Imagine your potential renters and how they are searching for their next home. If their max rent price is $1,800, they are likely to set $1,800 as their maximum search price. If you were to set your pricing at $1,850 or $1,900 with the willingness to negotiate less, you may be unintentionally missing out on potential renters.

Additionally, it may not add value to your listing to market your price ending in a $50 increment, like $1,850, since most search criteria increases in $100 increments. The $50 increment puts you in limbo with the inability to take advantage of viewers who are the next tier down. Take the plunge and lower another $50, it will pay off with a faster turnaround.

Rent Is Based On Desire

higher-standardsThe desirability of your property will play a huge role in how much rent you can charge. If your property has very little amenities or upgrades or is in need of a lot of work, renters will not be willing to pay top dollar. The more attractive your property is, the more you will likely be able to charge. The following are some of the most sought-after features in Chicago, which should be taken into consideration:

  • Vista – What will your tenants see when they draw their curtains in the morning? A view of Lake Michigan or a park is more desirable than a view of a the exterior of the building next door.
  • Altitude – If your apartment is in a high-rise building, the higher levels are more desirable. Ground floor or garden apartments can be less desirable to some renters, due to security concerns and the possibility of flooding in heavy rains.
  • Area – Value increases with square footage. In most cases, the greater area your property has the more desirable it is. There is one caveat though: how well your space is used plays a major role.
  • Beds/Baths – Value increases in any market as bedrooms and bathrooms increase.
  • Storage – From closet space to a basement or storage locker to a garage, any and all extra space is a bonus and should increase desire.
  • Updates/Upgrades  – The more modern your property is, the better. Homes with modern, updated appliances are far more desirable than those with outdated features and finishes. Even ‘vintage’ can get old.

Vintage is bad

The Right Price Is Attractive

If your property has been listed for a 2-3 weeks but you are not flooded with viewing requests, the price is likely a turn-off. Whether it is too high or too low, your audience will make assumptions. If a potential tenant thinks you are under-charging based on market demand, they may believe there is something wrong with the property.

You may find that using interest to find the “Goldilocks”, or perfect price point for your property is a solid tactic. Ideally, in the first couple of weeks that your property is new to the market you should receive 10-20 inquiries. And inquiries lead to showings!

Wrapping Up

Ideally, most landlords also want to make a profit. On average, a landlord pockets anywhere from zero to seven percent of the monthly rental income as profit. If the property is not benefiting you in some way, you might have set the rent too low, or worse, you might have over invested. Regardless of your goals, the right rent should, at the very minimum, cover all your expenses on the property. These include mortgage repayments (if you have one) as well as maintenance and repairs. If the value of your rental property does not meet or exceed this criteria, it may be time to consult an experienced, professional Leasing and/or Property Management service like Lofty to help get your investment back on the right track.

 

Looking for a real estate brokerage that can manage your investment property from top to bottom?

Contact Anthony Zammitt, managing broker of Lofty Real Estate.

 

How to Effectively Begin a Landlord Tenant Relationship

By | Property Management

tenant screening chicago
One of the most important components to being a successful landlord is forming solid business relationships with your tenants. A solid landlord/tenant relationship consists of both sides respecting one another and appreciating what each of you is bringing to the partnership.

The key is following through on your end of the relationship: a landlord who shows they respect and care for the tenants by being accountable and responsive to maintenance requests; tenants who pay on-time and continuously work towards leaving the property better than they found it. It is important to avoid letting a sense of entitlement seep into the relationship on either side as it can cause offense and crumble this relationship.

Check out our guide to finding the right tenant.

Getting off on the right foot with your tenants early on will set the pace of the relationship for the life of the lease. There are several benefits to being more than a faceless person that collects rent payments.

Fostering a relationship with your tenants is beneficial because:

  • Tenants that have good relationships with their landlords are more likely to take care of the property.
  • Trusting relationships are better for business.
  • Open communication can help you be proactive.
  • If they feel comfortable in your place, there is a higher likelihood they will renew their lease and reside in your property longer.

Keep things “business friendly” to avoid letting the relationship become too personal. Building a landlord tenant relationship that is built on mutual respect can benefit any landlord.

Renters that “like” their landlords because they have a good working relationship are far more likely to take care of the property. Tenants that feel uncomfortable or disconnected from their landlords are less likely to notify them of any issues. Having open communication with your tenants so they feel comfortable to call and tell you if there is an issue with your property can really pay off when it comes to minimizing damages. A strong relationship with your tenants also helps to ensure your rent is paid on time.

Set The Mood

A good business relationship works best when established from the beginning. You want to be friendly and approachable but always responsible and consistent. This is your business, and your tenants are essentially your customers. Even if your tenants are not particularly nice or professional towards you, it is recommended that you remain professional and respectful, treating them the way you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.

As the landlord, you can set the tone of the relationship by always being courteous, regardless of how trying the situation may be. Keeping that professional attitude can help you get through the tough spots that you may experience with your tenants. As with anyone, it is easy to be positive, cheery and agreeable when things are going well. The mark of great landlords and property managers is how successfully they navigate through challenging situations.

Be Upfront

If there is a problem with the property, disclose it at the beginning. State it before the lease is signed and advise as to a solution. Only make promises on which you intend on following through. If there is a problem, do your best to rectify the issue in a timely fashion, and be transparent with the steps you will take to improve the situation. Err on the side of over communication versus under communicating.

Treat your expectations similarly; make it clear to your tenants what you expect from them while they live in your property. Clear expectations eliminates confusion and avoids mishaps. Depending on local city ordinances, owners may be explicitly required by law to maintain aspects of the properties.

For instance, in Chicago it is the responsibility of both the owners and the tenants to remove snow and ice on public areas, with fines awaiting offenders. Consult your local ordinance to ensure compliance.

Strong Listening Skills

Listen to what your tenants want or need from you and do your best to meet the expectations within reason. Good landlords seek to answer, “Yes!” to any reasonable request, and people respect someone that pays attention to them and tries to meet their needs. Renters also appreciate a landlord’s willingness to discuss the reason why the request cannot be met — honesty can go a long way.

Accurate Record-Keeping

Clear and accurate record-keeping protects a landlord/tenant relationship from “he said she said” arguments. A strong document trail protects both you and your tenants, from the lease to emails back and forth throughout the lease period. This will clearly display your professionalism and organization which ultimately increases trust.

Respect Privacy

It is not okay to just pop in on your tenants unless there is an emergency. Give adequate notice for every situation, especially repairs or maintenance. Work with tenants to ensure they are able to develop a workaround in the event a major utility like water or electricity must be interrupted.

For top-notch customer service, send emails in lieu of calls or text conversations or send emails to recap calls or text conversations. This allow for a paper trail, allowing you and your tenant to review as needed. In some cases, you are also affording them the convenience of choosing response time. Another smart move is to follow-up on all communications within 24 hours. Always remember: the E in email also stands for Evidence.

People Skills

It is important that you are authoritative but within limits; you also want to seem accommodating and willing to willing to compromise and work with your tenants. It will help to build a healthy, collaborative relationship. Most tenants will appreciate your efforts and respond in kind. Other tenants will be difficult to work with but this is your business and you do have to take the bad with the good and not let emotion ever become part of the equation.

While these steps seem simple enough to deploy, they are all vital steps in forming a strong, effective relationship that will benefit the success of your investment. Of course, you should be available and keep up your end of the deal. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.

The key to effectively building a strong landlord/tenant relationship largely lies on your shoulders. Take this part of your responsibility seriously and you will be rewarded with loyal, longterm tenants that will maintain your property like it is their own. If you are enjoying respectful, courteous tenants who pay on time and stay for three or more years, then you’re doing great!

 

 

Speak with Anthony Zammitt, managing broker of Lofty Real Estate to find out how Lofty can supercharge your investment.

 

How To Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

By | Property Management

How To Maintain Your Garbage Disposal 

Your garbage disposal is a small, yet important item. Properly maintained, it helps you avoid hefty plumbing bills. It is common for most people not to think about their garbage disposal until issues arise and it is too late. The damage is usually caused by these very common, avoidable mistakes.Pits Are The Pits - Garbage Disposal

Whether in a Chicago apartment or a single family home in the Northwest suburbs, you may take these simple steps to correctly use and maintain your garbage disposal, keeping it running smoothly. The following tips are designed to help you use your garbage disposal effectively with adequate maintenance over the life of your unit. This will ensure you maximize revenue from your investment property.

Check out this post for tips on increasing your property’s leasing value.

The following point out your ‘Do’s, or things of which you really want to make a habit, and the things you never, ever want to do, under any circumstances; your ‘Don’t’s:

Do use your disposal frequently! When your disposal is left to sit for too long, the moving parts can become rusted and fail. Run it at least one time each day to keep it in good working condition and avoid any corrosion build-up.

Do always flush your disposal with cold water when you turn it on! As the food stuff is ground up and you’re running cold water, the cool water temperature can solidify any grease that is trapped in the food and make it easier to grind.So Fresh and Clean

Do grind citrus and other fruit peels in your disposal, it will keep things smelling fresh! From grapefruit to pineapple, kiwi to clementine, fresh fruit leaves a sweet scent.

Do make the job easier for your disposal by cutting up large pieces of food into much smaller chunks. Feed food scraps into the disposal slowly to avoid overworking the disposal. If you feel the sink shaking, the food item is too large

Don’t ever grind glass, metal, plastic or anything that is combustible. Cigarette should also never be disposed of via your garbage disposal. All of these items can cause serious and permanent damage to your disposal.

Don’t ever grind pasta, rice, or other foods that expand when they become wet. Since they can clog your pipes upon expanding, these foods are actually a main cause of clogs in drains that are attached to the disposal. This does not apply if the foods have been cooked and expanded to their maximum size.

Don’t ever grind an excessive amount of starchy foods like potato peels. The starch from starchy foods can build up and become glue-like which can cause mechanical failure.

Don’t ever pour grease or fat into your disposal. Not only can it negatively impact your disposal, but it can also cause build-ups and clogs in your drain.

Don’t ever put in foods that contain stringy or tough fibers. The stringy fibers in foods like celery and asparagus can wrap around the mechanisms and keep them from moving, while some leafy greens like kale or bok choy, and protective coverings like corn husks and banana peels can get stuck in the machine and break it.

Don’t ever throw coffee grounds into the disposal. While they will not harm the disposal, they can cause a clog in the drain. The same goes for eggshells and shrimp or crab shells.

Don’t ever put large bones down the disposal. Heavy, large bones may be too dense for your disposal and can cause it to break.

Additional Care

Ice Cubes Garbage DisposalIn addition to properly using your disposal, it is also important to take the necessary steps in maintenance. Every once in a while, throw some ice cubes into the disposal. The ice will clear any gunk off the blades while sharpening them. It may sound a little rough as the ice cubes are being ground, but it is completely safe for your disposal.

You can also freeze some white vinegar in ice cube trays to knock out foul odors. Two birds with one cube! For really bad smelling disposals, add some baking soda and allow it to sit for a couple of hours before flushing with cold water.

Wash your disposal regularly by pouring some dishwashing liquid down the disposal, adding cold water, and switching on the disposal. Maybe it’s a little fun to let it bubble up? We’re not gonna tell on you.

If Your Disposal Stops Working

In many cases when a disposal stops working or seems to stop working, the fix can be an easy one as long as you own a flashlight. First, on some models, there is a red or black reset button on the disposal itself. In some cases, pressing it will solve the issue.

You can also check your electrical panel to make sure a circuit breaker has not been tripped off. If it has, simply flip the switch back so it matches the rest of the breakers in that column of the electrical panel.

In some cases, you may want to jump start the disposal by hand. There is a nut on the bottom of the disposal that you can use an Allen key to turn, or you can buy a special disposal tool at most home improvement stores.

With a little care your disposal will last for years and work great along the way!

 

Looking for a great property manager to help you find the right tenants for your investment while managing your property from top to bottom?  Contact managing broker Anthony Zammitt with Lofty Real Estate for a quick chat!

 

Home Fire Safety Tips for Landlords and Property Managers

By | Property Management

The top causes & prevention tips every Property Manager and Tenant should know!

As a property management company in Chicago it’s our duty to make sure all our clients are aware of any potential hazards. Read on below to learn the leading causes of fires in the home.

fire stationKitchen Safety

According to the NFPA, the majority of household fires begin in the kitchen, with 43% originating from ranges or cooktops. While having fun cooking with family and friends, it is important to alert throughout the process:

  1.     Keep items that can catch fire away from your cooking area
  2.     Keep an eye on what you fry, due to high oil temperatures

Another culprit of kitchen fires involves portable cooking/warming units, like toasters. While you may not think these items can cause a fire since you use them everyday, they can ignite from the extreme heat within and flammable materials surrounding them. When using these items, it is important to remember to keep oven mitts, paper towels, and other flammable materials away from the heat source.

Top property managers will discuss with property owners and tenants the importance of a proper kitchen fire extinguisher, as well as a working kitchen smoke detector. It is important that tenants replace the battery on an as needed basis.

care cautionWhen using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, and sparks are all warning signs for appliances. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell and have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Staying Warm & Safe

Household heating equipment, such as furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters place second for leading cause of fires in the home. If a furnace appears to be faulty, professional property managers will ensure that a licensed technician properly examines it. The landlord or property manager will want to make sure a carbon monoxide detector is installed within the proper proximity to this unit to avoid inhalation should the unit begin to leak fumes.

Fireplaces should be cleaned annually if used during the prior year. As winter approaches, tenants may want to notify their Landlord that they have in the past or plan onusing their fireplace throughout the upcoming season. The chimney should be cleaned to remove the buildup of creosote, which can ignite, causing a fire to quickly spread. When in use, keep the fire in the fireplace through the use of fire screens.

In addition to a cozy fire throughout the winter months, tenants may find the need for a space heater in certain areas of their home and should notify their Landlord accordingly. While using a space heater, renters will want to keep them three feet away from any sheets, drapes or furniture. As a side note, space heaters tend to use a lot of energy, so it may be best to plug it into an outlet that has no other plugs in it to avoid tripping the breaker.

Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Even if you always clean the lint trap in your dryer after every load, it is important to clean your dryer vent annually. Your dryer gets very hot during use and lint is highly combustible. Not to mention, your dryer is connected to the gas line so a small fire can escalate.

Electrical Safety

Frayed wires are common causes in electrical fires. Items that heat up like toasters, lamps, blow dryers and hair straighteners should be commonly inspected.

Power cords/cables can generate heat so running them under carpets or rugs may cause an extensive amount of heat that can cause the rug to melt or ignite. Also, make sure your outlets are not overloaded with plugs, which can cause a short circuit, a spark, and then a fire.

For any do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that include the use of wiring and electricity, it is best to utilize the services provided by a licensed electrician, since many home fires stem from improper installation.

Older homes and apartments can have inadequate wiring which can lead to an electrical hazard and possibly a fire. Some warning signs include:

  1. the need to disconnect one appliance to plug in another
  2. the need to use extension cords or “octopus” outlets extensively
  3. fuses blow or circuit breakers trip frequently
  4. lights dim when using another appliance

Always avoid overloading circuits or extension cords and placing cords and wires under rugs, over nails, or in high traffic areas. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Early Warning

Smoke alarms are the most important source of fire detection. Every home should have at least one working unit per floor with the batteries being changed every 6 months. Detectors should be installed close enough to the bedrooms for the alarm to be heard when the door is closed.smoke fire

It is important to remember not to install a detector within 3 ft. of an air supply register that can possibly blow the smoke away inhibiting detection. If you plan on installing more than one per residence, you may consider purchasing interconnected units. When one detects smoke, all detector’s alarms will sound.

Retired Chicago Firefighter and now Fire Science Program Coordinator at Harper College in Palatine, Professor Samuel A. Giordano Jr., provided the following thoughts:

“Most Fires occur at Night. Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area and on every level of the home including your basement. Your ability to get out of your house during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.  Your life depends on this!”

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom to live the life you deserve, just contact Anthony Zammitt and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

Sources Used:

  • Source, Home Structure Fires, Marty Ahrens, April 2013. NFPA, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169, www.nfpa.org
  • Fire Analysis & Research Division, [email protected]

 

The Ultimate Guide To Finding The Right Tenant

By | Agents, Leasing

 

Ultimate Guide To Finding the Right Tenant

When it comes to renting your property, selecting a tenant is the most crucial step, as it directly relates to profitability. However, there is a fine line between filling a vacancy to maintain cash flow and finding your ideal tenant. At times, it may be necessary to turn away some applicants who do not meet your criteria.

Importance of PhotosHere at Lofty, we know there are two ways to learn: from the experience of others or from our own mistakes. Since we don’t really like to make mistakes, let’s focus on how best to apply the lessons learned!

There are five basic qualities to look for in your tenant assessment:

  1.     Rent payment is affordable
  2.     Historically pays rent on time
  3.     Stable employment history
  4.   Will treat your home like their home
  5.   Meets or exceeds your verification standards

Getting The Word Out

The right tenant will make your life easy, pay their rent in full and on time, keep your property well maintained, and keep your neighbours happy. There are a lot of renters in your city, so finding the ideal tenant is always possible.

The first point of engagement is the listing you post for the vacancy. Write a listing that speaks to your ideal tenant. Put yourself in their position and try to imagine what might stand out for them about your property, and make it really stand out. Support your well-written listing with photos, and a floor plan if available.

Keep in mind, some renters will not even read the listing if there are no photos. In some cases, they may assume there is something you are trying to hide. Again, think about it from your audience’s position: no one wants to waste their time on a unit in poor condition. In short, bad photos can hurt but not worse than no photos, and good photos are the best kind of all!

Throughout the process, no matter what happens, the key to choosing the right tenant is to pay attention to the facts and be patient—try to avoid acting out of emotion. There are lots of nice, friendly people that may not fit your well thought-out criteria.

Set Criteria That Will Stick

When choosing criteria for your new tenant, there are many things to consider. From local laws to the area of town in which your property resides, the list will vary greatly. The best advice is to keep an open mind and stay aware of the opportunities around you. For example, if you own real estate for rent near a college, consider some of your strongest applicants may not have any credit or employment history so co-signers may be an option.

It is up to you to determine your screening guidelines and consistently apply these for all applicants. On average, applicants are required to earn a gross income of three times the monthly rent. This can be verified via pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc.

Other verifications may include the minimum acceptable credit score, criminal background check, and a check for previous evictions.

Follow A Formal Process

An application form is the most effective way to gather all the information necessary to assess a potential tenant’s suitability. It allows you the opportunity to request the key pieces of data in an organized fashion, which will save both you and your applicants time and annoyances from multiple requests for further info as you process the application. After all, it is your aim to make the selection process as simple as possible, so an online application is highly encouraged.

Vital information includes:

  • personal details of everyone over the age of 18 who will be living in the property
  • the name and contact details of their current and previous landlord
  • and the contact details of their employer.

Make sure to state that only fully completed application forms will be considered to avoid unnecessary follow-ups. One of the benefits of utilizing a property management service like Lofty is paperless applications and record-keeping that saves you time and money. Removing yourself from engaging the entire process directly can also aid your ability to make a rational decision based on evidence.

Due Diligence

While we always want to take people at their word, it is imperative that all pertinent information has a data point to backup the information listed on their application. Remember, the success of your investment over the time period of this lease, is directly tied to this tenant selection process.

Verifications

In order to perform the necessary credit, criminal and eviction verifications, you will need to obtain personal information and employ a very reputable resource to run these reports. Those with a less than desirable past may try to hide it so make sure you verify the details they give you with valid identification to ensure the details are correct.

Make Contact

Your best opportunity to find out how your current applicants might be as tenants may be found by contacting their current landlord. Provided they are honest in their responses, this will be a great insight into your future year with your new tenants. Do they pay their rent on time every month? Has their behavior ever resulted in receiving noise complaints from neighbors? Have they caused any damage apart from general wear and tear to the property? If their landlord could do it all over again, would they rent to them again or for another year? These are the questions you want to ask.

When It Comes To Pets

Dogs and CatsIf you are on the fence regarding an applicant with a pet, it never hurts to ask to meet the animal. An in-person meeting may not always be possible, but with the various methods of communication afforded by technology, there may be a way to set your mind at ease. Pet rent, pet fees and pet deposits will also help you out in safeguarding against damage caused by negligent pet-owners.

Send A Rejection Letter

When you have completed the process and selected your tenant, notify those not chosen in writing. Make sure to provide the reason they were denied in reference to your original criteria. Perhaps it was based on too low of a credit score or not enough income to qualify.

Lofty Goals

free-your-timeSuccessfully leasing a rental property is not always an easy or efficient process. However, you can save a great deal of time and money down the road by doing it right.

Here at Lofty, there are two guidelines we are highly focused on:

  1. Rent gets paid on-time, consistently
  2. Tenants who will treat your home like their home

Our goal in assessing tenants is to ensure they are best suited to meet and exceed these two overarching points—then everything else seems to fall into place. As such, our owners are delighted with the tenants we have found for them. Join the club with Lofty, Chicago’s top Property Management service.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

Popular Interior Design Changes in Rentals

By | Agents, Property Management

Popular Interior Design Changes In Rentals

All owners of rental property share the same main goals: keep vacancy to a minimum while maintaining or increasing property value. Besides a clean space and working appliances, there are several more factors that contribute to an ideal situation for owners and renters alike. Interior design can be a big help and won’t cost too much with a little preparation. Though trends come and go, it is important to be aware of what is popular when designing your property for rental.

Experts Are All Around You

experts all aroundWith sites like Pinterest and Houzz, there is no shortage of “expert” advice and influence to be found on the internet. Maybe you have a Facebook friend that has their finger on the pulse of the trends and can help you make some informed decisions. There is a balance between making some popular interior design adjustments to enhance your condo/apartment’s aesthetics and spending countless dollars on a full makeover. Knowing your market can really help to find that balance. With the right touches you can easily enhance your condo and make it much more marketable.

When it comes to upgrading rental property, Owners can also learn a lot by looking at other listings in the area. Making yourself aware of the finishes that renters in your market are looking for will set you up to make the right decisions on your own investment.

Even with the advice of the “experts” on the web, sometimes time just isn’t as plentiful as one may need it to be. Savvy owners turn to Lofty, one of the top property management companies in Chicago. Lofty has apartment management in Chicago down to a science.

Want to increase profits and cut down on your time spent managing your properties? Contact us and we’ll show you how to do just that. We provide free market analysis, consultations and professional photography for all our new clients. We will ensure you never have to worry about renting out your condo again.

Some Tips from Lofty

Through their experience leasing condos in Chicago, the Lofty professionals have refined their list of what does and does not work in rental property design elements.

improvements cleaning

Here are a few tips you can use as a sort of guide or checklist when you are ready to make some changes for the better:

Hire a professional service to clean the apartment really well so you can expect to have your unit returned to you in the same pristine condition it was given.

A good place to invest a bit of money is in matching, stainless steel, energy efficient appliances. Otherwise, make sure whatever is there is cleaned like new and operating without issue.

Choose interior design materials that are timeless. Hardwoods, natural stone, and stainless steel are all good options.

When painting or decorating with wallcovering, opt for neutral colors. A neutral color palette will please the majority of potential applicants.

Avoid costly, over-the-top customization as adding too many details may limit the appeal or price you out of the market.

Built-in storage and shelving can be a big hit. Bookshelves in a flat wall can add some extra space; closet or cabinet organizers in bathrooms and bedrooms will help maximize storage.

Simple bathroom updates like a new mirror, faucet, towel rods and light fixtures make a big difference.

improvements stainless

Depending on marketplace expectations, blinds—especially wooden blinds— are a great investment as they offer more control and class than a pull-down shade. Remember to instruct tenants on proper operation.

Here at Lofty, we provide free market analysis and consultations. We would be happy to come out and take a look at your space to help you determine what interior design touches can help you get more income out of your rental. The right interior design elements will get your property rented for top dollar and keep it rented. We want your time spent where it should be, enjoying life.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

 

Time: the Missing Link in Property Management

By | Agents, Property Management

Time: the Missing Link in Property Management

The American dream of owning a nice home (or condo) with a white picket fence has changed over the years. The current morph looks something like this: owning a few properties with the tenants covering the mortgage by way of rent payments, leaving the owner free to pursue other wealth-generating activities. This new version of the dream is slightly more expensive based on the time needed to care for and maintain multiple properties, while also increasing value and communicating with tenants—a bit more than a weekend afternoon out in the garden or straightening up around the house.

There are simple ways to increase your property value, but simple only matters if the time investment is available. Time is the missing link… the investment on the investment.

Save Time Make Money

Time is money

Many first-time or inexperienced landlords can get caught up spending way more time than the investment may reasonably allow or even call for. These are called “smart people mistakes” and everyone on the path to financial success is both susceptible and prone to making them: Taking on too much alone, rushing through projects to save time, and cutting corners on projects to save money.

Making some or all of these mistakes can result in shabby looking improvements. In the worst case, that can actually cause depreciation of your property value. In the best case, you can end up attracting tenants that also operate like that. If property ownership is the shortcut to accomplishing your financial dreams, don’t try to shortcut the shortcut.

“You can always make another dollar…”

Experienced property owners know that having a Chicago property management company manage their property and handle all the “simple steps” will afford them a lot more time and only marginally affect their real estate profitability. The right property management company in Chicago will take care of the three simple ways to increase your property’s value for you!

Applying all the great advice found on the internet and even in motivational talks takes time. The simple steps that will add value to your property take time to execute. Even if you want someone else to take care of all the simple steps for you, it takes time to find the right person or people to do the work, supervise the work, ensure the work is done correctly and with your property value in mind.

“… but you can’t make another minute.”

Time is a precious and expensive commodity. When you begin taking time away from your core business to manage your own property, it can cause frustration. At some point, some folks may begin to wonder if rental properties are even worth the aggravation.

Before you get too frustrated and stick a for sale sign in the front yard, consider using Lofty, the real estate management company in Chicago that has the experience to effectively manage your property and free up your time.

Experienced, Professional Partners

Lofty's Experienced Property Management ProfessionalsHere at Lofty, we take pride in developing a reputation of excellence. This means your tenants are treated with the utmost respect and care to ensure our service does not reflect poorly on you, the owner. Our automated systems track every request, phone conversation and email so we can succinctly and accurately inform you of the happenings.

You likely have enough on your plate, trying to find time for home improvements that can increase your property value is likely not something that you can find time for. Does that mean that your property does not need to have these simple improvements done? No! it means that it is time to get some help on board from a property management company in Chicago that is experienced and has a contact list full of vetted, reliable vendors ready to serve.

Like any other business, the rental property business is one where you need to reinvest to keep it humming along and know when you need assistance to ensure success.

Time to Play

Turning over your property to the professionals at Lofty will mean more free time, less worry, and a better maintained property. It is simply the right choice for most experienced landlords.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

 

3 Simple Steps to Increase Your Property’s Leasing Value

By | Agents, Leasing

3 Simple Steps to Increase Your Property’s Leasing Value

While it is true that updated bathrooms and kitchens sit at the top of the list when it comes to valuable improvements, there are plenty of other ways to improve the value on a rental property. As an owner, there are three goals: Maintain value, increase value when possible, and keep it rented. From landscaping to painting to fixture replacements, we are excited to list some inexpensive home improvement options.

There are three main goals for a rental property:

  • Maintain the value
  • Increase the value when you can
  • Keep it rented

While maintaining your rental property’s value in some markets can be a challenge, increasing your property value should consistently be top of mind. There are 3 simple ways to increase your property value and make it more appealing to tenants, even while it is occupied. When a property is more appealing to tenants the leasing process is quicker.

Landscaping to Improve Curb Appeal

A really simple way to increase your property value is to spruce up the curb appeal with some great landscaping.

Improve Outdoor Appeal

Landscaping the exterior of the property makes the property more welcoming and enhances value two-fold.

First, by directly increasing your property’s value based on improved impressions. Secondly, by improving the overall look and feel of the neighborhood, which, in turn, increases the value of your property. Remember the old adage, “ K-I-S-S”, Keep It Simple Savvy investor.

Exterior/Interior Paint

For those with a single unit detached property, an exterior coat of paint can go a long way towards improving your property’s value. It is like a facelift for your property, able to transform the look from a run-down rental to a revitalized dream home. Plus, it will compliment your newly landscaped yard!

Fresh Interior Paint

A quick coat of interior paint can go along way to securing your next renters. Along with making your space feel fresh and clean, it also allows your future applicants, during their showing, to focus on where they will be placing their furniture, instead of whether it is worth living with all the scuffs and imperfections on the walls.

While you’re at it, a fresh coat on the windows and sills might not be a bad idea depending on their condition. Bottom line, painting inside and out can add the value to your property that you hoped for and ultimately lease your unit faster at a potentially higher price.

Low Cost Fixes With Large Returns

This is all about the little details! There are several simple fixes that can add a nice return on your investment, from upgrading the outside lights and hardware on the doors to updating the interior light fixtures.

Faucet Change Boosts Value

Changing out old faucets and handles with modern updates can increase the desirability of your unit. Though inexpensive and relatively simple to do, it may allow your future tenants to feel more comfortable moving forward with you. If they assume you take care of even the smallest details, it implies you’ll take care of any bigger issues that may arise. Falls right in line with the saying, “ How you do anything, is how you do everything.” Remember to highlight these little improvements during your showings, or ensure your Chicago area leasing agency knows of your improvements to effectively communicate them.

Time is Money

Though anyone can do all three of these steps in a few weeks to improve the value of their property, there is a missing link that leads property owners from successfully achieving their desired results.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

 

Home Improvements That Pay: The Professional’s Approach

By | Leasing

Home Improvements That Pay: The Professional’s Approach

More power? I don’t think so, Tim. But seriously, if you are a newcomer to the world of property leasing or just looking for some foolproof tips to rent out your property faster and for the best price possible, this is the post for you. As one of the leading property management companies in Chicago, our goal is to help you rent your property quicker, at the best possible price. We have years of professional experience and hope to help you save time and boost profitability.

Flooring: Sensible and competent but never cheap

Cheaper isn’t always best and it’s often better to pay that little extra for something you know not only looks great, but is going to stand the test of time. This is especially true when it comes to flooring.

Beautiful Wood Flooring

The true key is ensuring you choose material that is not only hardwearing, but also easy for your tenants to clean and maintain. Wood floors are often the simplest option, long lasting and easy to clean. Even laminate, “snap together”, wood flooring is a great option, especially if the subfloor is in a challenging condition.

If you’re set on carpet, it may not be in the best interest of your pocket book, long term, to just choose the cheapest option. Picking a carpet that is thicker and more durable will save you a lot of money in the long run and will also be much more appealing to renters. Remember the phrase “buy cheap, buy twice!”

Wallcovering: Paint it neutral

Presentation is key, as you may have learned from our previous entry on leasing tips for owners, managers and new agents. Whether or not the home will be staged, furnished, or just cleaned up and looking its best, paint color is arguably the most important feature in presentation to a prospective renter. They will consider themselves in the spaces so neutral colors are the safe bet. Based on the name, neutral colors can pair or fit-in with almost any furniture or decor a renter may already own. Neutral colors will also ensure that your property has a sense of openness and feels spacy and airy. These are key features that will draw renters into your property.

Off-whites or light grays can be a good choice as they avoid the troubles associated with whites: they look great for the first few weeks but can become scuffed and marked easily. It can be challenging to please everyone but colors like lime green will likely please fewer renters than something neutral. When you choose a color or colors, buy some excess paint and keep it in storage. It can come in handy when the time comes for touch ups. Just remember that paint can “go bad” so consult your manufacturers on storage best practices.

Doors: Safety meets statement

The front door can be a great starting point or an immediate hurdle when it comes to prospective renters. There are plenty of options for attractive and safe entry/exit points.

property leasing door

Door handles are also important and another instance where cheap isn’t always best. In some places, special kinds of locks or handles may be required by law. Again, there are simply tons of options. At Lofty, we like to think of the front door as able to be anything from a subtle statement about the modern home behind it, to a bright and flashy accent on a traditional and elegant space. Of course, the priority is safety so please check your local laws to make sure you are compliant.

Outdoors: Make it simple and clean

If your property has an outdoor space or a garden, think simple. You may be tempted to try making your garden or yard as pretty as possible, but there are a myriad of reasons. All that really matters is that the yard or garden is tidy. Once the grass is cut and weeded you are probably good to go—simple and low maintenance is the key here.

Bathrooms: The first and last room most people see every day

From a presentation perspective, a bathroom can make or break a potential renter. There isn’t very much personalization a renter can do to a bathroom so it needs to be tip-top from the get go. The saying, “a little goes a long way” is very applicable in reference to bathroom space. If your tub is chipped or looking its age, refinishing it is a simple and inexpensive improvement that will literally make it look brand new. Grout and tiles should be sparkling, whatever their age.

property leasing bath

Storage space is a huge area, even in the smallest bathrooms. Instead of a flat mirror, install a mirrored medicine cabinet. Shower cut-outs provide shelving and bathroom wall cut-outs can be used to store extra towels. Finally, little touches such as a handheld shower head will really swing it for potential applicants during their showings. Not only will it make the shower easier to clean, but people will feel confident that every small detail was accounted for!

Tile: Kitchen, bathroom and subterranean advantages

Tile flooring in your rental property is a solid option for kitchens and bathrooms, especially for a below ground living space. Tile is ideal for tackling the dampness and moisture that can often plague these rooms. Dark tiles and grout won’t show dirt as quickly as light tiles and grout. Tiles also make for easy cleaning which both you and your tenants will definitely appreciate!

In-Unit Appliances: Just makes lives easier

If space allows for the installation of a dishwasher and washer/dryer, take advantage! A dishwasher and laundry in the unit saves huge amounts of time and headaches no matter who is renting.

Lofty Property Management

These appliances are becoming essentials for renters during their new home search. They may even be willing to pay extra. And remember to leave the user manuals in a drawer for easy access.

Stainless steel: Worth its weight in gold

The small decision to spend a touch more for stainless steel appliances will provide another ‘Wow’ factor during your showings and set your place apart from every other unit with average, ho-hum, white appliances. They may even pay extra for the perceived value of a fancier place.

Storage: Even a little more can make a huge difference

Another often overlooked ‘Wow’ factor and exciting talking point during showings is closet space and additional storage in general. Find ways to add storage space under stairs or in hollowed walls as every little bit helps! If you have access to an additional storage unit, be sure to promote it – possibly even charge extra for it. The goal is for your tenants to have the opportunity to grow into your space and become long-term residents.

Decor/Staging: Don’t take it personally

This is the golden rule when it comes to decorating your rental unit: declutter and depersonalize! It is important to remember that you will not be living in the property. While your favorite color might be pink or maybe you love Victorian themed decorations, these selections may not appeal to the masses. We are all unique, especially when it comes down to how we want to decorate our homes. What you might consider to be a beautiful touch to a home might be a major deterrent to someone else.

With this in mind, it is best to think simple and objective when it comes to decorating your rental property. Your new tenants will be much happier transforming a blank canvas into their home rather than transforming someone else’s home into theirs.

Via our property management services throughout a large portion of the Chicagoland area, we recently took over management of a property in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood that was having trouble renting. Following our on-site client meeting, we realized that walking through their home was an engaging look into their life’s history. Though it made for interesting conversation, it was evident that prospective applicants would have a challenging time focusing on seeing this home for themselves. Upon depersonalizing their place, their condo rented a week later and this simple, easy step made a made a huge difference!

We provide property management services in Albany Park , Andersonville, Bucktown, Buena Park, Edgewater, Gold Coast, Greek Town, Humboldt Park, Irving Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square, Little Italy, Logan Square, Noble Square, Old Irving Park, Old Town, Printers Row, Ravenswood, River North, River West, Roscoe Village, Rogers Park, South Loop, The Loop, Ukranian Village, Uptown, West Loop, West Town, Wicker Park, Wrigleyville and the Chicagoland area. If you are interested in getting help managing your properties don’t hesitate to let us know. We are committed to helping you save time and boost profitability. We provide free market analysis and free professional photography.

Get in touch with us today!

4 Keys To Leasing Your Property Quickly

By | Property Management

Are you looking to lease a property in the Chicago area fast? Yes? Then you’ve come to the right place! Below you will find our simple guide on how to quickly lease your property in Chicago. We’ll share with you the 4 keys to leasing your property the right way.

Many of you may be veteran investors who know the drill already. Alternatively, you might be a first time landlord and not know what to expect. Whether you are the ultimate investor or the new kid on the block, these 4 keys will help you get your property on the market and back off of it just as fast. It may seem easy to rent a property, but there can be a lot of factors you wouldn’t think of that can make the whole process a lot trickier. You want to make sure that you have all the information to get the most out of your property.

#1. Pricing is Key – Don’t Price To High!
The most important thing to take into account is price. It can be tricky to know how much to charge for rent. Clearly, you don’t want to set rent too low, but if you price your home too high then no one is going to rent from you, leaving you with nothing but a vacant unit with a large price tag.

So how do you know what to ask for? There is no set agreed upon price for any given property. What you want to do is research what properties like yours generally go for and base you’re your price off of that.

You can also start at a slightly higher bracket and if need be drop the price. It does not have to be a fixed sum. Often times, if you start a little high and then lower the price, people will think they are getting a deal and be more likely to take it.

We also suggest you ask for multiples of a hundred. If someone decides that $2,000 is their budget, they won’t go for a place priced at $2,050. That extra $50 isn’t worth losing potential renters. We see properties rent a lot quicker when priced at multiples of a hundred. Make sure you follow this property leasing tip as this will ensure you are set up for success.

#2. Timing is Key – Know When To List!

You also need to get your timing right. When leasing your property, make sure you have a good grasp on what the seasons are like. Iin Chicago, for example,. you probably don’t want to be renting during the winter months. November through as late as April can see some serious snowfall. That’s just the type of thing that can cost you potential renters and potential cash. Show your property at its best, not its coldest.

Make sure you get the timing right so you can maximize your chances of leasing your property. It might be the case that in the nice summer months you are away or have other stuff to deal with. This is where a property management company like Lofty can really help to save you time and get your property leased. Don’t hesitate to contact us as we are always here to help.

#3. Presentation is Key – Know How To Show!

In addition to renting at the right time, you want to be renting in the right way. Make sure that you do a good job presenting your property so people will want it.

Get photos, and make sure they are good ones. If you are going to be asking renters to pay you to live there; you need them to see that it will be worth their money. The right kind of photos can really make or break a listing. If you your property looks great then people are much more likely to see it—they can’t rent it if they can’t see it. If you do not have quality pictures available then it really increases the chances that people will pass you by.

At worst, a lack of pictures indicates that there is some major flaw you are trying to hide. Make sure you use the right kinds of photos. Poor quality pictures are a sign that you don’t really care about renting/leasing your property. In addition, even if you do, a few small snapshots with your phone won’t do it justice. In some cases, they can make it look worse than it actually is. So use good quality cameras if you can.

Also, keep in mind what features of your property you want to emphasize. For instance if you are leasing a city apartment, you probably want to use mostly interior shots to display how nice the various rooms are. Often times an apartment doesn’t look that great from the outside, so don’t draw people’s attention to it if you don’t have to. With a house or Condo though, you might want to play up the yard so people can see the great opportunities for a garden or play area for the kids.

#4. Advertising is Key – List, List, List!

You may have pricing right, timing perfect, and you’ve polished up your showing skills like a pro! However, none of the work of pricing and proper presentation will do you any good if no one knows your property is on the market! Effectively advertising your property is the 4th key to renting out your space.

You are going to want to make sure you have ads everywhere. Put up signs all around the area. If you can, put ads in the paper. Go online to sites like Craigslist and post there. You want as many potential renters as possible so you need to make sure that all the people who might be interested know what’s going on.

Also, you can never assume people have a lot of time to shop around. Just because someone might be in the market to lease your property does not mean they will go through all of the trouble of hunting it down if you aren’t easy to find. They won’t want to spend their valuable time searching, so make sure they don’t have to.

If you’re able to tie all of these key tips together, you’re sure to get your property rented faster than ever before! We hope you have enjoyed our four keys to renting or leasing property the right way. If you have any questions or need any help be sure to email or call us. We are always happy to help property owners get their properties rented fast!

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, we’re here to help. Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

Leasing Your property in Chicago?

By | Leasing

Leasing Your Property in Chicago?

Discover How You Can Dramatically Improve Your Chances of Finding a Renter With Lofty’s 19 Perfect Showing Tips!

leasing in chicagoIf you are a landlord and need to rent or lease your property, there are several things you need to know that will improve your chances of landing a tenant. Although the market for prospective tenants for apartments in Chicago is in full force, many offers vanish into thin air because potential renters were simply turned off with poor landlord behavior!

So, before you conduct any viewings, make sure that you are prepared and professional. Simply use this step-by-step checklist of tips that’ll show you the right way to present your property!

A Few Hours Before the Viewing Begins

  • Preparation is important before the viewing begins. Here’s what you do need to do before the potential tenants arrive:
  • Always dress to impress. You’re going to want to dress one step above what you think the potential tenants will be wearing. Let’s say the dress code is casual, then dress business casual. If the dress code is business casual, one up them and dress business professional (men can go with or without tie). It’s better to look overdressed because you can always remove layers if they are dressed casually.
  • Before you head on over to the unit, make sure you review the details of the unit you are about to show. This boosts your confidence when you know the highlights of the property.
  • Make sure you have all keys for all areas of the property such as the garage and storage units. There’s nothing worse than not having entry to an area the renter wants to see!

Etiquette & BehaviorEtiquette Right before the Viewing Begins

Right before the potential tenants arrive, make sure you’re on your best behavior and practice these practical tips on etiquette:

  • Arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before the scheduled viewing begins. Even if you arrive on-time, you may not have enough time to prepare the place.
  • Don’t park your car in the main parking spot. Instead, opt for street parking and, if possible, allow them to park in the closest spot to the property. You never want your potential renter or leaser to park too far. It is important for them to know how it feels to park like they would if they lived there.
  • Once you arrive at the unit, open all the window coverings (unless the view is unwelcoming).
    Make sure you clear the path before the viewing begins.
    Bad breath is unprofessional, but gum is just as distracting! Have a breath mint beforehand, but avoid chewing gum at all costs.
  • Switch your phone off or to silent and wait until after the viewing is over to reply to missed calls and text messages. Anything else is a potential distraction, offense or annoyance and could easily tarnish an otherwise promising professional relationship.

Here’s to Having a Great Viewing

Once the potential tenants have arrived, here are some tips to make it a successful and impressive viewing.

  • Be congenial and greet the viewers with a happy smile and friendly, firm handshake.
  • Get a feel of their pace by asking if they have another meeting right after the viewing. If they are in a hurry, speed up the viewing.
  • When showing the rooms of the unit, don’t stand in the middle of the rooms because it makes the rooms look smaller. You want to make the rooms look bigger than they appear. Avoid standing in front of windows, it blocks natural light.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t resort to lying. Instead say, “Good question! I don’t know the right answer at the moment, but will look into it right after the viewing and get back to you.” The important thing is to follow through on unanswered questions.
  • Point out the positive highlights of the unit by saying, “The kitchen’s appliances are all new” or “You can see the sunrise in this room, giving it a whole heap of natural light.”

beautiful kitchenClosing the Viewing on the Right Note

Once the viewing is about to end, you want to end it on a good note. Here’s some tips on how to successfully close the viewing:

  • Finish the viewing in the nicest room of the property such as the kitchen or living room. It helps to close the viewing in a room where there is a table and chairs. Make sure to have final conversation there, just in case the potential tenants want to make an offer and write down some notes.
  • If they are interested in placing an offer, talk about the next step: the application process.
  • Close with a sincere ‘thank you’ and tell them that you’ll be in touch. Clarify that both parties have each other’s contact information such as email addresses and phone numbers.
  • Turn off the lights, close all the shades, and lock all the doors. Don’t leave anything behind.

Remember, in order to get your potential renter to want to rent from you, it’s important to come prepared and look and act professional. Potential tenants are obviously looking for a new place to call home, but they also want to start a fruitful relationship with their landlord, so that’s why being professional is so important. In order to make a lasting impression and, eventually, have new tenants seal the deal with you, just follow these steps and we can guarantee that you will greatly increase your chances of signing tenants.

Do you have a property in Chicago that you want to lease or sell? Get in touch with our experts here at Lofty to see how we can help.

Whether you just need to find the right tenants for your investment property, or you want everything managed from top to bottom, live the life you deserve and let Lofty handle the rest.

6 Tips To Wow Prospective Renters!

By | Leasing

6 Tips To Wow Prospective Renters!

You’ve only got three seconds to make a lasting impression! This is a simple truth that applies to everything from making new friends in school when you’re a kid, to attracting the ideal tenant to lease. Providing impressive apartment leasing services in Chicago requires a pretty simple approach: surprise potential tenants by making them say ‘WOW!’ with these six tips that will surely have the applications rolling in with no delay.

The real estate leasing landscape in Chicago shows no shortage of prospective renters, but there are a few easy steps you can take to guarantee your property achieves the WOW factor that attracts in droves and earns you a great reputation!

WOW Tip #1: It’s Attractive on the Outside (How cute!)flowers

When it comes to first impressions, prospective applicants are already forming an opinion by looking at the building’s exterior and outside spaces—so make sure your front area is in order at first glance.

  • Cut the lawn and keep the gardens maintained.
  • If located on a main street or major intersection, make sure all sidewalks and walkways are well kept and free of damage or debris—especially snow and ice in winter months.
  • Clean and remove any litter lying around on the front of your property, especially, on busy streets and corners.

You’d be surprised at how a fresh cut lawn and a maintained exterior can wow potential renters even before the viewing begins!

WOW Tip #2: It’s the Paint that Makes it Great

Colors influence moods and evoke emotions in people. Consider what your potential tenant might feel when they walk into a room painted fire-engine red… The color red evokes a range of moods and emotions from energetic to passionate to anger and even aggression. While a few people may appreciate it,  going the bold route will likely work against you. When deciding on colors to paint the interior walls, opt for neutral tones throughout. It’s also easier for tenants to match furniture and decorations with neutral tones. The best neutral tones for painting walls are:

  • Gray blues
  • Beiges
  • Grays
  • Aqua blues
  • Light, subtle browns

Once prospective applicants step foot into a room and smell the scent of fresh paint, it signals a clean and appealing look to the property. Ultimately, the smell of fresh paint goes a long way and definitely sets your property apart. In fact, some of your future tenants may already own the furniture that fits in perfectly with your newly chosen paint colors!

clean room for leasingWOW Tip #3: It’s Super Clean (…does Mr. Clean, like, LIVE here?)

In order to WOW prospective tenants, every aspect of every room must be sparkling clean. They do not want to see dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, dusty floors, and, the worst of it all, rings around the bathtub or toilet. Every room that you are presenting for viewings, must go through a vigorous deep clean. Here’s a list of what you need to do:

  • If you have hardwood floors, make sure you wax them or Swiffer them. They should be spotless.
  • Dust all the window sills, paintings, corners, fan blades, and shelves.
  • Clean and shine kitchen counters and appliances such as refrigerators, stove tops, and cupboards.
  • Deep cleanse the washroom mirrors, toilets, bathtubs, and faucets. Get rid of old shower curtains and replace with a new set.
  • If you have curtains, make sure they are washed. You’d be surprised that curtains smell funny after months of not being washed.

When you’re done cleaning, do an inspection and use your own finger to see if you pick up any leftover dust or dirt. The point of deep cleansing every room is to ensure not one speck of dust can be seen anywhere. Once you’re done shining everything, the best way to find out if its super clean is to see if you can see your own reflection in it.

WOW Tip #4: It’s Very Spacious

“Less is more” is so true: rooms simply look larger when empty. It’s an optical illusion that works for everyone. The key to making your properties look their most spacious is to declutter; maybe put some things back in the closet or storage. To declutter, here’s a list of frequently occurring items to remove and help free up space:

  • Books, magazines, piles of loose papers
  • Blankets, pillows, and towels
  • Candles and candle holders
  • Small kitchen appliances such as toasters, blenders, cookie jars, and coffee and tea makers
  • Small lamps
  • Trinkets on side tables
  • Electronics such as DVD players, stereos, landline phones, and alarm clocks
  • Shoes and clothes
  • Office supplies
  • Toiletries, perfumes, aerosol cans
  • Toys

WOW Tip #5: It smells delightful! (follow your nose!)

Another way to wow prospective tenants is to tickle their senses with delightful smells. A successful real estate leasing service in Chicago would often go so far as baking chocolate chip cookies in their model homes, creating that “just like home” smell. Plus, it was a nice icebreaker to offer future renters a fresh, warm cookie! Even if baking isn’t your thing, you can easily add ‘WOW’ to your property by:

  • Adding a bowl of potpourri in each room
  • Disposable plugins in the hallways and bathrooms
  • Spray air freshener in the bedrooms
  • A bouquet of flowers in a vase in the living room

WOW Tip #6: It’s Depersonalized (Nothing personal)

Probably the most important ‘WOW!’ factor that you’ve got to do is depersonalize the space. It’s important for renters to picture themselves living in the home, so here are some important items to take down before showings begin:

  • Take down all photo frames of family photos placed on bookshelves, desks, walls, and the refrigerator.
  • Pack away framed certificates, diplomas, and wall-mounted plaques
  • Store exercise equipment such as elliptical and treadmills away
  • Tuck away personal care products such as shavers and hair dryers

The Bottom Line to Wow Prospective Tenants

In order to wow potential renters, remember to appeal to their senses. To showcase the best landlord services in Chicago, make sure you present aesthetics that leave a lasting impression on prospective tenants. You want to wow them by having a beautiful and well-kept exterior, along with new coats of neutral paint on the interior walls. And, most importantly, you want to present a clean, decluttered, and depersonalized space that smells great. Once you implement these wow factors into your properties, you’re sure to attract new tenants happy to sign a rental lease with you!

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