From Kazakhstan to American…$55k per month! :: #RidiculousRent

Plaza_Hotel_April_2008

Have you ever been to Kazakhstan? I haven’t. I am trying to imagine what $55,000 USD could possibly get you in the former Soviet state. I honestly have no idea! Perhaps this is a sign there are simply not enough Kazakhstan-focused episodes on HGTV’s House Hunters International.

Anyway, since the Soviet breakup in 1991, I am guessing that Kazakhstan has been doing quite well…..well, at least it appears their royalty is doing well.  As reported by Katherine Clarke in this NY Daily News article, the president’s nephew, Daniyar Nazarbayev is trying to lease his 4,200 sf apartment at the Plaza Hotel for $55,000 per month. The story gets richer (excuse the pun), so you might enjoy reading the NY Daily’s piece here: http://bit.ly/PlazaPad.

Here’s to moving on up!

Convenience Incentives as a remedy to your Fee Allergy

Credit: William K.L. Dickson

Credit: William K.L. Dickson

Like most grandfathers, mine had a handful of quirky quips that were perpetually repeated. My grandfather’s favorite seemed to be, “I’m allergic to fees.”

Allergic to fees.

Last week I was discussing RenterUp with a property manager, Rick, and we started discussing a point I mentioned in a previous blog (Stop Chasing Checks) about changing the way we think about charging for conveniences. That blog post references another property manager who was bragging about his 90% acceptance of online rental payments by charging a $5 Handling Fee. As mentioned before, I really appreciated the change of perspective: Handling Fee instead of a Convenience Fee. Rick had an even better perspective: Convenience Incentives.

Rick and I discussed a few quick ideas of Convenience Incentives, including:

  • Early Pay Incentive Option 1: Pay by the 20th of the month for a $10 discount
  • Early Pay Incentive Option 2: Advance pay 3 months of rent for 3% discount (maybe consider matching the months to the percentage, such as pay 12 months advance for a 12% discount)
  • Electronic Pay Incentive: Pay electronically for $5 discount

Imagine how favorably a judge might look upon an incentive-focused property manager in the event of an eviction or other legal issue.

Everyone responds better to incentives than they do to fees. So, my grandfather was obviously onto something….perhaps we should consider convenience incentives as a remedy for your fee allergy!

What other Convenience Incentives might work for rental homes?

Babies, Weddings, and a $40k/month rental :: Jennifer Aniston’s RidiculousRent

Credit: Zillow.com

Credit: Zillow.com

 

It appears Jennifer Aniston and her special friend, Justin Theroux, have a lot going on at the moment. Allegedly the couple is pregnant, engaged, and in the middle of a remodel. Can you imagine the stress of it all? A remodel with a baby and wedding to plan?

To ease the burden, I recommend they rent something nice. Something really nice. Oh look, they have rented something……something very expensive! Aniston and Theroux apparently paid $40k per month for this amazing LA home – Are you as curious as I am about the pool area after the baby arrives? What will it look like after it’s surround by baby-proof fencing?

Enjoy the pictures of this amazing rental home here, on FrontDoor.com or on Zillow.com.

 

Stop Chasing Checks!

AA048434.tif

No more chasing checks; no more faxes; and no more mailing documents!

Last week, I attended the Georgia chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and met a number of great people, most all of whom were full-time property managers. My heart was warmed to hear that these property managers are adopting technology to manage their businesses – particularly for online payments, tenant management, and lease management.

I met a gentleman that impressed me with his efficient approach to operating his 300-unit property management business. We instantly bonded when he claimed, “90% of my tenants pay their rent online.”

Let me repeat that: 90% of his tenants pay their rent online! Can you see the tears of joy streaming down my face?

How does one get an acceptance rate up to 90%? Simply put, he changes the way his tenants think about paying rent. He does not charge a trumped-up Convenience Fee, but instead, he charges a $5 Handling Fee to any tenant paying by check.

Property managers of scale clearly understand the convenience of collecting rent online and our goal is to make that convenience accessible to any landlord, regardless of size. One unit or one thousand, please stop chasing checks!

 

Burden of the Handy Landlord

wrench

Last Sunday I was excited to squeeze in some father-son time with my seven year old boy, Stewart. We planned to play golf but were distracted by a call from one of my tenants about a leak in their utility room. Are you kidding me? On a Sunday? So, two boys in their best Sunday golfing attire schlepped themselves to my rental home with the appropriate tools to assess and tackle the job. Did we get to play golf? No. Fortunately, Stewart is equally excited to be helping his father with clogged PVC drains as he is with driving a golf cart. This was not how I envisioned spending this nice Sunday.

Of course, Stewart intelligently asks why we don’t call a plumber to repair the leak. I explain the cost of a plumber to him and he quickly asks, “well, then maybe we should get paid for all of this work?” Umm, I’m not sure that’s how it works, but he is obviously smart enough to understand the value of his time.

This brings back memories of my childhood as the son of a property manager. I vividly recall days spent mowing lawns, cleaning homes, fixing leaks, and simply keeping homes in good renting condition. I was never as clever as Stewart and never understood the value of my time.

So, what is the value of my time? That is a tough question to answer. Why? Perhaps because I am stubborn. If I know I can fix an issue, I think about cost of the repair and I typically shutter. The smarter person assesses the value of their own time and compares that with the cost of the repair. For better or worse, my upbringing is my burden – I am handy, stubborn, and sometimes stupid. Just let me fix it!

Am I the only person with the burden of being handy enough that I often neglect the value of my own time? How do you assess the value of your time?

Apple, rental management, and RenterUp.

AppleWatch

It is well known that Apple has a penchant for showmanship at their Apple Live events. Apple fans can easily recall Steve Jobs and his introduction of the first Macintosh. I think Tim Cook and Jony Ive have lived up to Steve Jobs’ vision – if that’s possible.

The biggest takeaway from yesterday’s Apple Live event, and every one before it, is that Apple obsesses over their product details unlike any other company. They also obsess about the usage of their products and how they fit into our daily lives.

At RenterUp, we admire Apple’s constant attention to detail. Providing a bunch of whiz-bang features in the property management space is great, but making sure it fits squarely into the lives of tenants and landlords is what we focus on the most. We ask our beta-testers for feedback and meet internally several times per week to focus on and prioritize this feedback. Every bit of feedback is addressed and scrutinized: How does it make our product better and does it fit our mantra to simplify rental management?

“Simplify rental management” underscores RenterUp’s vision of providing a product that fits the busy lifestyles of both tenants and landlords. Keeping this mantra in mind, we will continue to develop features based on our users’ feedback. We aspire to build a product that is Apple-simple, and in order to achieve this, we will obsess on the details, just as the Apple team does. Then, maybe one day you will be part of the RenterUp Fan Club!

Top 5 Tips for Marketing Your Rental Property.

This week I discovered a smart real estate blogger, Gavin Welch from The Real Estate Loop. His podcast for the week was titled Marketing Secrets for Investors and does a great job of quickly running through tips for acquiring and marketing real estate. Of greatest interest to landlords were some of his comments about listing your home for rent. A few of his bullet points are here with my quick thoughts on each:

  • Craigslist – Let’s be honest, this is where today’s tenants are looking for their rental homes.
  • Postlets – The greatest tool for syndicating your listing across a multitude of online channels.
  • Zillow and Trulia – Both of these sites make home searching fun, in my opinion. Who doesn’t love looking at maps?
  • Bandit Sign or For Rent Sign – Old-school, tried-and-true marketing 101. Go to your corner Ace Hardware and drive that sign in the ground….you will be surprised at the traffic it generates.
  • YouTube – I had never thought of this one. Brilliant! Slowly and thoughtfully walk through your rental home with your smart phone giving viewers a tour of the home. Pan around slowly, speak clearly, and tell a good story. When you have interested people wanting more information about the house, drive them to your YouTube page to check out the house. I love this tip.
  • GoogleVoice – I have been using this trick for years and it has saved me so much time. Setup a free Google Voice account with a local number for your area. Simply record your greeting with a solid description of the home. Ask that the interested parties leave a message for a call back then you can receive the voice message transcribed in your email inbox. The more information you provide in the greeting filters the tire-kickers. Give this one a try.

What do you use for your marketing? What has worked and not worked for you?

Thank you for the great podcast, Gavin. Keep up the great tips.

 

Park City. Is it ski season yet? #RidiculousRent

3623 Oakwood Ct, Park City (Zillow.com)

Obviously I have a passion for a lot of different cities. Park City has a special place in my heart because I lived there for a while in college. Needless to say, it has changed a lot since the mid-nineties, but I always enjoy going back.

I found a nice rental in The Oaks subdivision of Park City which sits between Deer Valley and Park City Mountain; a really nice location. With 6 bedrooms, 6 baths, and 7,000 square feet for $8,000 per month, this home is far from our most ridiculous rental home we’ve ever explored. Nevertheless it qualifies for Ridiculous Rent!

Enjoy the details on Zillow here: http://bit.ly/VQUy4u

Beach living on Oahu. #RidiculousRent

84-197 Makau Street (Zillow.com)I have recently been inspired by the HGTV show, Hawaii Life, and have since been in a Hawaiian state of mind. It is fun to dream of living and raising a family in such a paradise! Maybe one day……maybe. (although, truth be told, you will actually find me in Tuscany if my lottery ticket is ever announced)

In Hawaii, on Oahu to be exact, I discovered quite a nice place for your beach living dreams. 6 bedrooms and 3 baths with 3,500 square feet of remodeled beach front living for $19,500 per month.

Enjoy the details on Zillow here: http://bit.ly/1tePXHW

My favorite place on earth. #RidiculousRent

Villa Alba (LuxuryRetreats.com)If you have been following Ridiculous Rent for any time now, you may notice I really enjoy curating these incredible properties. Recently we have turned our attention overseas, thus opening up some really fascinating homes for us to explore. Today, we go to my father’s homeland in Italy. Honestly, my favorite place on earth. There are tons of homes to choose from but I thought I would pick this one because of its location, decor, views, and……I could go on and on. Villa Alba is a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom stone farmhouse in Montalcino, in the heart of Tuscany. Our Ridiculous Rent home rents for between $3,500-$5,500 per NIGHT. Let’s play with the math and rent this for one year at an average price of $4,500. That is $1,602,000 per year or $133,500 per month. Neither words nor pictures can adequately describe or illustrate the beauty of this region. Perhaps this home is a little too expensive to stay a month or so, but I still suggest you visit the area. You will not regret it. Enjoy this home’s details on Luxury Retreats here: http://bit.ly/1sDPU4f