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Leasing

long term leases in chicago

Why to Consider Offering Long-Term Leases in Chicago

By | Leasing

If you own rental properties in a big city like Chicago, you know that sometimes, you’ll work with tenants who are looking to stay put for a few years, and in an effort to reduce some stress on themselves will request a longer-term lease than is standard. Instead of leasing for one year, these tenants may request to sign two, three, or even five-year leases to avoid having to move. While the initial idea may not sound so great to you—how will you earn money on the changing rental market if you’re locked into a certain rental rate for a few years—it can be very beneficial to offer extended leases to tenants. As a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty understand the hesitance of some owners and landlords to committing to longer leases than one year. It’s important to first have your renters sign a one-year lease, and after they have established that they’re trustworthy tenants, you can consider a longer lease. We want to make sure our clients get the most out of their investments, and for that reason, we’re sharing some reasons you should consider offering long-term leases to reliable renters.

1) Guaranteed Income

Perhaps the biggest benefit of offering longer term leases to tenants is the guarantee that you’ll have rented units with guaranteed cash flow for the duration of those leases. Instead of having to worry about finding a new tenant after one year, you can relax a bit and enjoy the steady influx of profits instead of worrying about creating new listing ads, screening new tenants, preparing the rentals for new tenants, and everything else related to tenants moving in and out every year. Decreasing the amount of time you have to spend on all of that not only saves you that time (obviously), but it has the added benefit of ensuring that you won’t have to deal with any vacancies during that time. If you’re worried about signing a tenant onto a rental rate that may have you earning less profit in their second or third lease year, just imagine what the cost is of having an empty unit for a month or longer every time a tenant moves out. Letting tenants sign two year leases is the perfect happy medium—they get two years of calm comfort, knowing they’re locked into a rental rate and won’t have to move, and you get two years of steady income without the worry that the market will change so much that you’ll be losing money on their rental rate.

2) Less Heavy Maintenance Related to Turnover

Another benefit of offering longer term leases is that it can reduce the amount of moving-related maintenance that you have to do. For instance, if you are required by law to repaint every time a tenant moves out, and you have tenants moving out every single year, you’re spending a lot of money on paint (and painters, if you’re not doing the job yourself). Now add on all of the other maintenance and cleaning that you have to do when tenants leave—imagine doing all of that work less frequently. Even if you’re working with a property management company that takes care of all the work that needs to be done, simply not having to do so is still the easier and more convenient choice. When tenants stay in your properties longer, you get the benefit of needing to do less work on your buildings.

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3) You Can Focus On Other Investments

When you’ve freed up the time that you would spend writing new listing ads, showing the units, and screening tenants, you can use that time to work on other investments.

With the steady cash flow from long-term leases and the time to look at other properties, you may find your investment property portfolio growing much faster than you thought it would. This can lead to even more profits and opportunity to invest in other Chicago properties. Growing your own business is a huge benefit of offering long term leases. The two may not sound like they are related on the surface, but it tends to have a domino effect.

4) Better Tenants Who Are More Trustworthy

Finally, offering long term leases tends to attract trustworthy tenants. People who are more destructive or disrespectful to rental properties typically look for shorter term leases so that at the end of their time, they can cut and run without any adverse effects. If you’ve got a prospective tenant asking to sign a contract for multiple years, however, they’re indicating that they’ve got a reason to want to stick around for a while. Whether it’s a locked-in rate or even just a great location for them, people who rent for a long time tend to view the property as something they should treat well. In general, tenants who stay in one place for many years may be more trustworthy and cause less damage than those who are looking for shorter term leases.

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How to Know What’s Right for Your Properties

If you’re not sure if offering long term leases is right for you, working with a property management company in Chicago can help. At Lofty, our goal is to make sure that our clients are getting the most return on their investments so that they can live the life they deserve, and we can help you figure out the best ways to market, rent, and maintain your Chicago rentals. To learn more about all we can do for you, contact us anytime. 

Wondering if a switch might be right for you? Give us a shout and learn more.

SCHEDULE A CHAT

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(844) 355-6389

Things to Include in Your Chicago Rental Ads

5 Things to Include in Your Chicago Rental Ads to Edge Out Competition

By | Leasing

When you own investment properties in Chicago and are on the hunt for the best tenants to rent to, it’s important to post great ads to entice potential renters. Standing out against your competitors’ ads is easier than you might think—-it comes down to including five things that show to tenants that you’re the one they should be renting from and not anyone else. As a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty know that some ads will be more successful than others, and we strive to help our clients draw in the best renters possible. Follow these tips to edge out your competition and find the best people to rent to.

5) A Headline that Avoids All Cliches

When you scan through rental listings, you likely see the same headlines over and over, with emphasis placed on the same key phrases—”Great location,” “Going fast,” “Recently rehabbed,” etc. While these help renters distinguish run of the mill places, they’re a bit empty and can be a lot stronger to catch someone’s eye. Instead of simply noting where the rental is and that it might be in a popular neighborhood, point out things that are great about the property itself. Features like hardwood floors, in-unit laundry, or a dishwasher are all points to note about properties that can draw in interested renters. That’s because not all of the rentals in Chicago have these features, and for many tenants, higher end amenities are on their “must have” lists. Include these phrases in your listings and you may find that you get more phone calls about seeing the place.

Things to Include in Your Chicago Rental Ads

4) Staging

Too often, rental listings include photos of rental properties that are clearly still being lived in. While that’s okay, if absolutely necessary, it’s much more appealing to a renter to see what the apartment looks like at its best. If you’re really trying to get your properties rented quickly and to great tenants, one way to entice them is to consider staging the units so that the photos you use in listings look fantastic. Staging may involve purchasing temporary furniture that you can keep in storage (or use for staging other properties), but it makes the apartment look like something aspirational, rather than showing off some other tenant’s old couch and cluttered bedroom. Making your property look extremely well maintained is a great way to get people interested—especially when you think about all of the other properties being listed with dim photos that look like they were taken on a last-minute basis.

3) Outdoor Photos

Another tipping point for renters is being able to envision what their new neighborhoods will look like. Will they live on a tree-lined side street or a bustling intersection? Of course, not every tenant will want one or the other, so posting photos of what the outside of the property looks like as well as its immediate surrounding area can help people decide whether it’s what they are looking for. Many investment property owners think it’s enough to just post photos of their properties’ interiors, but this can cause you to waste a lot of time showing units in busy neighborhoods to tenants who ultimately want peace and quiet, or showing units on a quiet street filled with families and children to people who want to be closest to the latest nightlife openings.

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2) Selling Points

Thinking back to the headline, if you include features of your properties that other property owners in Chicago aren’t offering, you may find that more and more people are interested in renting from you. For example, utilities being included in the rent is something that people will jump at the chance to have, as it cuts down the amount of bills they have to organize every month.

Permit parking or a covered lot are also great selling points, particularly in Chicago where parking is often at a premium. Include the features that tipped you to purchase the building in the first place, as those same features will appeal to renters.

1) A Call to Action

Finally—and this seems almost too simple to include as a tip—it’s important to include a call for your potential renters to get in touch with you. Too many rental ads simply list the facts: cross streets, price, and a bullet list of amenities. If you’re trying to get a property rented fast, make it easier for your potential tenants. Include a call to action at the end of your listing such as when to call, who to ask for, or when showings will take place. Phrases like “Stop by Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to see this unbeatable apartment,” or “Ask for Tony when you call to schedule your showing” can help tenants feel like if they don’t do so, they may miss out on your rentals.

how to rent my property fast chicago

Getting Help With Your Listings

As an investment property owner, you’ve probably got a to-do list a mile long. At Lofty, we understand that things get pushed off all the time, and when you’re on a time crunch it’s easy to cut corners. As a property management company in Chicago, we want to help you. We’ll help you write the most effective ads possible for your listings, and we’ll also help you screen tenants. After your new renters move in, we can take care of maintenance requests, tracking down rent, and so much more. At Lofty, we strive to get rid of your busy work so that you can live the life you deserve. To learn more about all we can do for you, contact us anytime.

Wondering if a switch might be right for you? Give us a shout and learn more.

SCHEDULE A CHAT

or call

(844) 355-6389

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!

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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