Spring Cleaning Your Property

It’s officially spring, and while the warm temperatures might have you thinking about a vacation, it’s best to tackle spring cleaning before relaxing! Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management knows how important it is to be proactive about maintenance. Here’s a to do list of chores you should consider undertaking to prep your property for the season:
– Check out your roof and gutters. Hauling out the ladder around the property might be a chore, but staying abreast of the condition of your roof and gutters pays in the long run. While you’re there, clean out any old leaves and debris that might have collected. Spring often means lots of rain, so you’ll want to be prepared for the gutters to flow clear!
– Get landscaping. Now is the time to plant new flower beds, pick up old branches and sticks that have fallen over the long winter, and rake up any last dead leaves on the ground. Be sure to trim any trees or bushes that appear grown over, too.
– Inspect your parking lots. Check for potholes and faded paint. Once you know what needs tackled, create a to do list to pass along to any contractors you might hire.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Four Tricky Prospective Tenant Questions – And How to Answer Them

When you’ve got a prospective tenant in front of you, you want to impress them with your charm – and your property, of course. But for many property managers, this interaction can invite dicey questions they don’t have the first clue how to answer! Cal Bay Property Management’s Scott Safadi has all the advice you need. Check out our guide to four of the trickiest questions – and how to answer them:
1. How’s the crime in your area?
Honesty is the best policy with this question. It pays to be forthright about your area’s crime levels. Don’t downplay break-ins and burglaries – you’ll pay for it later. Feel uncomfortable discussing crime rates? Refer the tenant to the local police station.
2. Do you allow pets?
Hopefully, you’ll have a very clear pet policy hammered out before a prospective tenant ever has a chance to ask. But some folks with exotic pets like parrots and snakes may not fall within your guidelines. Clearly outline what the consequences are for property damage and come to a compromise with the tenant.
3. Can we have a shorter lease?
Most property managers demand a one-year lease from new tenants, but if you’re willing to be flexible, you can decrease your vacancy rate. Commit to a policy before this question is asked!
4. When can we move in?
This is a great question to hear – you’re obviously doing something right! It’s tempting to toss out a date and make everyone happy. But be certain that the date is indeed okay for move-in – you risk annoying the prospective tenant if that has to change.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Phone Etiquette Tips

In the age of Twitter and Facebook, the art of the phone call is underrated. After all, most of us communicate via text these days, be it via SMS or social media. And while phone calls to grandma over the holidays might be traditional, if that’s the only one you make all year, you’re bound to get rusty! Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends brushing up on your phone skills, even if you’re not likely to use them very often. Keep these phone etiquette tips in mind the next time you find yourself answering the office phone:
Give Your Full Attention
Phone calls shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, especially if you’re handling a prospective applicant. Keep things short, but give the person your full attention throughout the duration of the call. Even the best multitaskers can appear rude when their replies sound distracted or when sounds of a keyboard leak through the call.
Prequalify When Possible
There’s no use wasting your time or the prospective tenant’s time – try to prequalify over the phone when possible. If you know your non-negotiables, be upfront about them. Ask about pets if you have breed or weigh restrictions, and be sure your timelines match up – no one wants to wait months for the next available unit.
Get Their Name
Apartment hunters are likely calling an entire list of potential properties looking for a place to live. Asking for their name, using it throughout the conversation and remembering them in person when they come in can give you an edge. It shows you care – and that they’re not just a number to you and your office.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Questions You Should NEVER Ask a Prospective Tenant (Seriously, They’re Illegal!)

When you sit down with a potential new tenant, there are inevitably dozens of questions running through your mind. What does this person do for a living? Do they have a family? Are they reliable with paying their rent each month? Do they have pets?
But as your questions pile up, it’s easy to spiral out of control. Amidst a casual conversation about a person’s background, it’s easy to forget that there are legal limits on what you can ask. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends avoiding these questions:
– Where are you from? This question is hard not to ask – after all it’s such a common icebreaker! But the Federal Fair Housing ¬†Act prevents landlords to ask about an applicant’s ethnic background, and it’s easy to interpret this question as an inquiry about a person’s nation of origin.
How old are you? This question is kind of rude, but it’s also illegal. You can’t ask, since the answer could be used to discriminate against the tenant.
Do you have any kids? This is another familiar icebreaker type of question, but one you should definitely avoid! Again, if you ask this question and choose not to approve this tenant, you could be accused of discrimination.
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Scoping Out the Competition: How Research Can be the Ultimate Weapon

In a crowded rental market, it can be hard to find an edge over your competitors. With apartment communities battling for tenants, spending money on state of the art amenities often seems to be the only way to attract applicants. But what if we told you there is a free option for property managers looking to stay competitive? Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has the answer.
The key, he says, is knowing your market. As the saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies even closer! By constantly staying abreast of your competitor’s marketing strategies and upgrades, you can ensure you’re one step ahead.
So what does this research look like? For one, you should be following your competition on social media. Don’t worry about giving them extra likes or followers – you need the valuable intel they’ll project on these platforms. You should also not be afraid to call up competing communities and ask questions as a potential applicant might. There’s no shame in staying in the loop!
You should also consider checking out the competition’s online reputation. Reviews can speak volumes about the way tenants feel about their community. Still, don’t rely too heavily on the intel you learn on Yelp – angry tenants are more likely to leave biased reviews.

– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

End Chaotic Days with These Time Management Tips

If you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed in the office, work becomes miserable. With phones ringing off the hook, emails pinging in your inbox and colleagues after you for your signature approving the latest big decision, it can feel impossible to get work done. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management has these tips for you:
Accept applications online. As a property manager, you’ve got enough on your plate without holding the hands of each potential new tenant. Post your applications online and have folks submit them digitally. There’s less paperwork to keep track of and a digital stack waiting for you when you can get to it.
Track maintenance and tenant communications online, too. Linking plumbers and handy men to specific tenant needs can land you on the phone for hours. Instead, have maintenance needs logged online for easy tracking.
Try the Pomodoro Method. Break your time up into 25 minute chunks and devote all your attention to one task at a time. Multitasking can actually be less productive in the long run!
– Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Spring Maintenance Your Property (Probably) Needs

Are you ready for spring? More importantly, is your property? After months of chilly temperatures, it’s time to embrace the great outdoors once again. But spring cleaning and maintenance is a must for property managers. Even if your property didn’t experience heavy snowfall this winter, chances are good there is routine maintenance tasks in need of completing. Have you considered:
– Cleaning your gutters? Winds can cause debris to be trapped in your gutters, causing expensive backups and clogs. If any is too difficult to remove, consider calling in an expert – one wrong move could make for a costly repair.
– Power washing exteriors? It’s the perfect time of year to bust out the power washer and go to town! While your checking this task off your list, inspect exteriors for damage. Spotting chipping paint now could save you a headache later!
– Increasing your curb appeal? With sunny days and mild temperatures, now is the time to plant flowers, trees and shrubs necessary to make your property stand out in the crowd.
– Scott Safadi, CalBay Property Management