It Works For Me!

Frequently I am asked questions regarding different aspects of managment, I have listed my response to a couple. Please remember that these are my opinions and appropriate legal, accounting, or other expert assistance should be sought from competent professionals.

Should I have all my leases expire during the summer months so re-renting them will be easier?

Absolutely Not! Although this is what the majority of investors believe, I totally disagree. If I split the lease expiration dates of our 40 units over a period of 4 months we could possibly have 10 units to renovate and re-rent. I love leases that expire during the winter months. I personally would not want to be moving during the holdiays, or hauling our furniture and personal belongings in the snow or ice. I believe the families in our buildings feel the same. I also find that it is not any harder to rent units during the winter, in fact I find it easier because I have less competition. What bothers me is all of the discounts that are offered during the winter. I do not believe that our buildings or units depreciate because of the the cold weather and I will not "self-inflict" depreciation or less income by offering discounts or not collecting full Security Deposits.

How do you advertize your vacancies?
I use a local major newspaper. I do not feel that only advertising certain days of the week are better, so I run the ad seven days a week. I keep my ad very simple because I want the potential renter(s) to call me for more information.

Zion 1 Brs starting at $500
Large 2 Brs starting at $625
No pets, No Section 8
Call Ellen (847) 395-0000

If you notice I do not state that the 1 bedrooms are large. It is not because it balanced out the ad, but because they are extremely small units. I use the term "starting at" if I have more than one apartment available in a 1 or 2 bedroom. If I receive an excellent response from the ad, I WILL rent a 2 bedroom for $625, and all additional 2 bedrooms will rent for $650 or more.

I specifically list "LEGAL" situations that I will not accept. That way I am not wasting my time or theirs.

I also have found that prospective applicants like to know the name of the person they should ask for.

I do not give them a specific time frame that they must call. If you have a full time job and it is possible to forward your calls from home to a direct work number or mobile phone I highly recommend it. Even though answering machines are handy in this situation, I find that many people calling for an apartment rental will not leave a message - thanks to Caller ID. If you are not able to receive calls at work, unfortunately you will have to rely on an answering machine, or pay an answering service to take messages for you. On the taped message of the machine you should tell them that you will return their call after a certain time. If you put the time in the paper, chances are they will forget to call at the specicfied time, or they will pass your ad up completely and call the number for the next ad.

I do not list the address of the apartment(s). If the area happens to have a bad reputation, I want to have a chance to inform the caller about the changes that have been made for improvement.

Who should be listed as lease holders?
Everyone 18 years of age and older that will be residing in the unit: husband, wife, children, friends, relatives, etc. Even if only 1 adult may obtain work in the future. If rent payments cease from this unit, you will have more income to attach to, greater leverage in collecting the money due to you because it will be effecting all of their credit reports, and make it easier to evict the tenants if they are all listed as Lessees to avoid a "squatter" situation.

Written by Ellen M. Ranaldo, 25127 W Circle Ave., Antioch, IL 60002-8975. Reprinted with permission from Ellen Ranaldo. Also appeared in Lake County Apartment Owner's Association newsletter , PO Box 344, Gurnee, IL 60031-3044

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