Archives for posts with tag: online rental application

The constant fluctuations of the housing market can mean many things in terms of property investment, rental rates and the life of a landlord. We know, for instance, that there is a higher percentage of renters in the United States than there has been in quite sometime. But what we haven’t addressed is that there are also more landlords. Whether you have found yourself in a property investment deal that didn’t go quite as planned or you’ve moved to another house while your old property has sat on the market for far too long, you yourself may have already become a landlord due to lack of options. The life of a landlord can be financially rewarding, but it can also be complex and draining with many rules, laws and advice to wade through. In this post, we want to distill a few of the more important tips that will lead to a better life for both you and your tenants.
1. Have a Knowledgeable Attorney On Speed Dial

And we don’t mean your friend from high school who now works in criminal law or your neighbor who used to be a paralegal. You should find an attorney who specializes and it intimately familiar with landlord/tenant law and the evictions process. No one wants to think about evictions when you don’t even have a tenant yet, but the fact is that at some point you will have to deal with the process. If you develop a good relationship with an attorney sooner rather than later, it can save you a lot of headache and maybe a few bucks in the future. A good attorney can also help you by reviewing your lease agreement to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors or problems.

2. Consider Professional Property Management

It may seem like an expensive prospect, but the fact is that unless you live next door and can dedicate a significant amount of your time to dealing with your tenants, you will be much better off having the property managed professionally. A trusted manager can fix problems as they arise, collect rents and develop a professional relationship with your tenants so that you can go on living your life without the constant threat of a phone call with and emergency plumbing situation.

3. Set Expectations Right Away

It’s evident from this blog post and the ensuing comments that most landlords agree it’s important to set your expectations up front and not back down, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. As a landlord, it is important to remember that while you may respect and even like your tenants, you are not friends with them. Insist that they pay their rent in full, on time, from the very beginning. This makes it less likely that they will offer up excuses in the future. You’ve become a landlord to recoup an investment, one way or another, and you won’t be able to do that unless you actually get rent.

4. Find a Good Apartment Application

Having an application system in place before you even put out a yard sign for your vacancy will make your rental process go more smoothly. Of course, we may be a little biased, be we find that an online rental application is much simpler to use than a paper form. You can collect all the information you need – including references, driver’s license number, credit check approval and a new tenant’s contact information – and keep it safely in one place online for future reference. Even if you don’t choose to go online with the process, make sure you have an application ready as soon as tenants start calling.

5. Choose Tenants Wisely

If you’re desperate to start making income from your property, you may want to take the first person who shows an interest, but that is not the best idea. Screen your tenants, run a credit check on your tenants, interview your tenants, call your tenants’ landlords. Make sure they are trustworthy people who are not apt to destroy your property and run off in the middle of the night without paying rent.

Of course, being a landlord is not as simple as five easy tips, but keeping these in mind as you venture into the world of landlord-hood should make your new role a little easier.

Property management company Korman Residential has recently been working to roll out their KindSpace initiative, which has the company converting apartment buildings into sustainable and eco-friendly projects. These apartments use locally sourced materials, energy efficient appliances and much of the décor and construction materials come from recycled products.

While they aren’t the first company to make inroads in the green construction and rental business, it gives us here at Rocket Lease an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.  Korman has converted hundreds of units across the country, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida into KindSpace apartments.

If you’re a landlord, we’re sure you love the earth and everything, but what about the bottom line here: does having an “eco-friendly” apartment available allow you to charge a premium?  While we’re not privy to the exact rental rates at the Korman properties, judging by the inflated prices on everything from organic tomatoes to vegan hand soap and gluten free cupcakes, we can bet that the answer is a resounding yet.  This has to be particularly true considering the fact that we’re already entrenched in a landlord’s market.  It’s just a fact that people are willing to pay more for something that makes them feel like they are doing something good for the environment and for themselves.  Furthermore, since that demographic who is more willing to pay for organic or eco-friendly or whatever the buzzword of the day is tends to be more affluent, they will most likely be the most desireable tenants.  This is an interesting and innovative way for Korman and other property management companies to attract the best tenants.

The market is another interesting thing to consider, however.  Since everyone knows that it’s impossible for it to stay a landlord’s market forever, now is actually a great time to be making improvement to properties, such as adding Energy Star rated appliances or painting with non-toxic paint.  That way when the market does take a turn for the renter, that property will be ready with an advantage to present to picky renters while other landlords scramble to make improvements.

We also know that one easy (and free!) way to “green” up your rental process is to switch to an online rental application which saves you time and saves the earth a few trees.

As a landlord, what do you think of converting units to something a little more earth-friendly?  Are you willing to spend a little more on your overhead to potentially recover a lot more in rent?  Furthermore, do we think this fad will last?

It’s no secret to readers of this blog or basically anyone that’s picked up a newspaper in the last 10 years, that the housing market we’re currently facing in the U.S. is virtually unprecedented.  After the housing collapse, many Americans found themselves forced to move out of foreclosed upon homes and, even as the market improves, with credit that is simply not good enough to buy a new home.  This has lead, of course, to a boom in the rental market, which has in turn lead to some surprising investment moves by companies who want to take advantage of this climate.

For instance, a recent article in the New York Times describes Waypoint Real Estate Group, who has a number of offices and inspectors with the sole focus of buying homes that are in foreclosure, fixing them up and marketing them as rental properties.  But Waypoint isn’t doing this in the way that an individual would go about becoming a landlord.  Instead, they’re purchasing homes on a massive scale, with their current operation snapping up five to seven homes every day, mainly through bank auctions.  The homes are bought only after putting some numbers into their proprietary algorithm to determine if the place is actually worth the investment at which point they are bid on and renovated to bring them up to a rentable state.  Waypoint even offers current occupants, the victims of foreclosure, the opportunity to stay in the house and rent it from them once the renovations are complete.

Real Estate experts and economist have mixed feelings about the future of this kind of project, but the fact remains that Waypoint is committed to seeing returns on these properties.  Regardless of what this may mean for local communities (where it could see property values go up initially as fewer homes stand vacant), it does mean that there are going to be a number of new property managers and landlords coming into the game with the aim of earning around an 8% return on their investment in just the first year.

While we can’t say for certain yet whether this influx of new rental property will be a good or bad thing, we can say that Waypoint and other companies like them are going to need to go beyond a real estate estimating system once they become landlords.  Having a great rental property, with new appliances and attractive landscaping, is just one piece of the puzzle.  What they’ll need next is an effective and efficient way to manage the rental applications and leases at all of those properties.  The company plans to buy between 10,000 and 15,000 new properties by the end of next year and must have a plan in place for managing them once all the renovations are complete.  An online rental application coupled with an online leasing system, like that offered oh-so-awesomely by the team here at Rocket Lease, would be a great start for Waypoint and their brethren.  We know that Rocket Lease is a great tool for an individual landlord, but there’s no reason that it can’t help out the real estate fat cats, too!  By allowing themselves to easily track their rental applications and have all their leases in one easy to access place, these companies will be able to better serve their tenants and the communities where their properties exist.

Here on the Rocket Lease blog, we’ve already devoted a little bit of time talking about the overall economy and its effects on the rental market.  But new figures that were recently released by Reis show that the market for apartment rentals may be even more robust that originally thought.  In fact, MarketWatch is predicting that the apartment vacancy rate will fall to 4.6% nationwide by the end of next year.  Up to now, occupancy rates like these have been largely unheard of except in the most competitive markets.  Today, in the notoriously competitive rental market that is New York City, vacancies have fallen this year to a paltry 2.4%.

As with any market trend, there are a lot of factors that contribute to numbers like these.  But probably the most important factor in today’s rental market is the fact that the housing market and the individual finances of most US citizens have simply not recovered to the point where homeownership is once again an option.  In fact, according to an informal survey conducted by apartments.com, an astonishing 33% of people who are looking for rentals on that site are former homeowners.  Clearly, when people are unable to afford the purchase or upkeep of their own home, they will most often find themselves turning to the rental market.

But what do these low vacancy rates mean for property owners and landlords?  Obviously, this kind of rental market – one that works strongly in favor of the landlords – can be a boon to property owners.  Indeed, one of the worst scenarios for a landlord is to find themselves with many vacancies which represent a loss of potential income.  However, that doesn’t mean that in a landlord’s market is a time to rest on your laurels and let the rental applications take care of themselves.  In fact, as the rental market becomes more competitive, it will be more of a challenge and necessity to find the very best tenants among the applicants.  Using an online  rental application system, of course, can be helpful in keeping track of all the applicants that come in and can also insist in quickly sorting and denying applications from those who are not qualified.  This can save you a tremendous amount of time that will be precious when trying to rent an apartment in a competitive market.

Furthermore, during these booming times, it may be a good idea to consider making improvements to your property.  Since you will no doubt have low vacancy rates and therefore be comfortably collecting monthly rents, using this income to make your building more attractive can help to prepare you for the times when business is not quite so quick.  Sure, with a 4% vacancy rate you may not have to offer the best amenities or even the best prices in order to attract tenants.  However, there will come a time when vacancy rates go back up and if you have done your due diligence in upkeep and improvement during the good times, you will more easily be able to weather the bad.

There are so many difficult situations that a property manager has to deal with in the course of a single day that it would be overwhelming to try to list all of them here.  But perhaps one of the biggest challenges faced by a property manager is dealing with the property owner or landlord that owns your building.  Ideally, you have a good relationship with the property owner who is your boss and that lets you make suggestions to him or her about how the property is handled.  Still, we know that it can sometimes be difficult to convince a property owner to change their ways, which includes getting them to switch to an online rental application process.  Luckily, we here at Rocket Lease have some suggestions for how to deal with the questions and concerns that the property owner might have when you bring up the idea.

What He Says: Won’t it be hard for me to learn a new system? 

Particularly if a landlord has been in the business for a long time, he will probably be concerned about the effort it will take to learn any kind of new system.  If he is in the habit of reviewing paper applications when a vacancy comes up, he may be very hesitant to switch to an online system, lest he not be able to judge prospective tenants so easily.

What You Say: The Rocket Lease system is extremely easy to use.  The streamlined dashboard actually means it’s easier to review applications – with the added benefit that you can do it from anywhere without having drop by the property or have them faxed over.  You can even review applications from your smart phone.  (At this point, you can feel free to show them the simple and oh-so-easy walkthrough on our site, which you’ll find here.)

What He Says: Why would we change?  Our system works fine.

It’s true that people have been renting apartments using paper applications for decades and it hasn’t started any nuclear wars (that we know of).  But just because a system works “ok” doesn’t mean it’s the best system.  If that were true, I’d be typing this on an Apple IIe and faxing it to you, right?

Yes, switching to an online system will doubtless make your job easier and that’s why you want to do it.  But when you’re talking to your boss, don’t focus on that part, focus on how it will actually help them.

What You Say: Switching to an online rental application will save you money because it will save me time.  When I’m not wading through paper applications or fussing with the fax machine, I can be doing the other, more important tasks that come with my job, like checking facebook.  NO!  Don’t say that, like fixing things.

You Can Also Say:  It will find you better tenants because you can accept applications from people around the world and also set up a pre-screening application saving everyone time and energy.  Our current system works “ok” but this system works BETTER.

What He Says: Won’t a fancy online application cost me money?

This is an easy one, because it won’t.

What You Say: Rocket Lease is free for landlords.  They even do tenant screening with the screening fees going to the prospective tenants.

If by this point in the conversation you haven’t convinced your property owner to switch to online rental application, you could always try begging.

'Locks' photo (c) 2010, m thierry - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Although we live in a time where the internet has made many things exponentially more awesome, we also live in a time when the internet has made some things a little bit more scary, especially when it comes to you personal information and privacy.  It seems like every time you visit a new site, they want more and more details about you before you even get a chance to decide if you trust them!  At Rocket Lease, we understand how off-putting that is, which is why you should know that we take your personal security very seriously.

Since the rental application process requires a great deal of personal information, oftentimes even asking for your social security number, we know that you might find Rocket Lease a little bit scary itself, particularly if you have never availed yourself of our services before.  But we know how important keeping your personal information is to you, whether you are a landlord or a tenant so we want to assure you that you are safe with us. 

RocketLease uses sophisticated encryption technology to send your information through the internet.  This includes bank level security on our site as well as SSL secure connections throughout rocketlease.com.  When you use Rocket Lease either to provide your tenants with an easy and efficient way to apply for apartment online or whether you are submitting an application for your dream loft, your personal information will not be seen by anyone that you haven’t expressly granted permission to.  Not even the Rocket Lease team will have access to unencrypted application data throughout the entire process. 

What this level of security means for you is that the Rocket Lease online rental application is actually more secure than a paper application.  Think about it this way: it would be much easier for a hard copy of an application to fall into the wrong hands than it would be for someone to gain access to your data through our system.

Rocket Lease also utilizes an electronic signature, through the trusted and established third party Docusign software, which allows us to transmit legally binding signatures without the hassle and security risk of a printed copy.   You can find more information about the legality of online signatures on our FAQ page.

If you have further questions about the Rocket Lease, don’t hesitate to visit rocketlease.com and get in touch with one of our trained professionals.

'Unfurnished Apt for Rent' photo (c) 2008, turkeychik - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you have probably figured out by now that the main purpose of Rocket Lease is to streamline the apartment rental process for both landlords and applicants.  (And if you haven’t been following, now you know!)  Even though we know it sounds attractive to streamline and simplify, we also know that sometimes even good change is difficult and scary.  This can be particularly true for those people who are set in their ways.

Whether you believe in it or not, there’s a reason that people claim you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Not that we mean to compare you to a dog, but if you’ve been a landlord for a long time, that means you’ve also been using paper rental applications for a long time.  Until very recently, that was your only option.  One way or another you have made due with paper applications: you’ve found potential tenants, collected their information and rented apartments over and over all without the benefit of an online rental application so why should you change your ways now?  I bet you can see where this is going: turns out there are a lot of reasons to consider switching to an online application system for your property.  And, you guessed it, I’m going to tell you what those reasons are!

You’ll Save Time & Time is Money

Plain and simple: collecting your rental applications online is faster and easier than using paper applications.  Instead of fussing with fax machines or even waiting for the mail, you’ll have applications delivered to you instantly via the Rocket Lease dashboard.  This means you can make decisions faster which will let you fill your vacancies faster. Every minute you save by being able to quickly scan applications, reject unsuitable applicants with one click and even run a credit check through RocketLease without expending any of your own resources, is a minute you can spend doing something else.

You’ll Find Better Tenants Because You’ll Find More Tenants

When you use an online rental application service like Rocket Lease, you’ll get more potential tenants applying for your vacancy, period.  For our part, we suggest that landlords post a link to their RocketLease application in their initial vacancy listing as a way to screen applicants before they even come to the door, which saves time for both you and them.  Taking the application process online also allows you to accept applications from renters who are in another city or even across an ocean.  By broadening your tenant horizons, you’ll have a much better chance of finding the perfect tenant, and you’ll do it fast so that you won’t have any units sitting vacant.

Today’s Tenants Want It

Sometimes it probably seems like tenants are always asking for things: fix my garbage disposal, I have a leak, the neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking.  But there is one thing that they want from you that will actually make your life easier, too: they want to be able to apply to apartments online.  According to the National Apartment Association, a whopping 88% of tenants want the option to apply to an apartment online.  And this is one instance where it’s so easy to give them exactly what they want!

Why RocketLease?

If I’ve done a sufficient job of convincing you that online rental applications are the way of the future that will actually simplify your business and your life, I have to suggest that you pop over to Rocket Lease and sign up for free.  The Rocket Lease service is completely free to you.  Rocket Lease is efficient, effective, and easy to use.  Not to mention the additional tenant screening option we also offer, making our site a one stop shop for your online rental application needs.

If you’re still not convinced, head over to rocketlease.com anyway for more details about our services and to get all your questions answered.