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What’s your One Thing?

Today I’d like to share a little bit about the main idea within a book we recently read as a company at RTS. It’s called The One Thing. It’s a fun read, and it’s pretty simple.
First let’s talk a little bit about multi-tasking. Usually people believe that they are “good” at multi-tasking and implement that into their daily lives. This might be true for minor tasks at home and things like that but, if you truly want to excel at what you do, multi-tasking is a no go. If we think about it in a completely rational way, the only way we can be the most efficient and effective at a certain activity is to place our complete focus on that one thing while we do it, otherwise, we’re just doing two things at the same time at a mediocre level.

One small change can have a series of very noticeable effects on your life.

Once we’re get past this desire to multi-task, and once we’ve accepted the fact that we are not gods capable of doing everything perfectly at the same time, we are presented with the question:

What is that ONE thing that we can do that will make other things in our life will be obsolete, unnecessary, or easier? 

This simple question asked about everything in our life has a way of focusing our priorities and sky rocketing our effectiveness.  When we can really just relax and focus on the most important thing we can sky rocket our effectiveness and get the important things done first and then at the end of the day we can relax and have fun and not worry about all the important things we never got to.

Here are some example one thing questions:

  • What one thing can I do at home to improve my marriage that will make everything else I do to improve my marge obsolete unnecessary or easier?
  • What one thing can I do at work to improve my efficiency such that other things in my life will be obsolete, unnecessary or easier?
  • What one thing can I do to boost my relationship with my children such that other things in my life will be obsolete, unnecessary or easier?
  • What one thing can I do to improve my finances such that other things in my life will be obsolete, unnecessary or easier?
  • And the list goes on…

Posing this question to ourselves, will not only improve our effectiveness in the one thing that we choose to focus on, but will also prevent us from getting drained by doing more unnecessary activities, or by doing certain activities in a more difficult way than we should. It’s something to keep in mind, and I believe it is part of what marks the difference between a successful person and somebody that is not.

At the start of the day, ask yourself, what is the one thing? Then just keep asking yourself the same question during the rest of the day, until you start filtering out everything you don’t need in a probably already very busy life

How can you as a landlord sleep better?

Have you ever had a really stressed out or extremely busy period of time in your life that wreaks havoc in your sleep habits? This usually comes in the form of big changes in your line of work, or just a larger-than-usual workload. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, and you’ve been having ideas coming in and out your head for several days now, in order to expand your business in some sort of way. Maybe you’re just plain stressed due to the accumulation of several totally different factors. This type of occurrence can seriously affect your sleep habits, by making your brain work more than it should, at times that it shouldn’t be working – thus keeping you from getting a proper night’s rest, which in return can seriously affect your health.
So, even if we can offer you peace of mind in regards to your property, it’ll never be true peace for you if you can’t have a good sleep due to other reasons. Because of this, I’d like to offer you some general ideas that you could find useful in order to get your rest back.

Sometimes the only difference between a great day and a terrible day is how well you slept during the night.

1.- Know your cycles

By know your cycles I mean you need to understand your circadian rhythms and what they are. So what is your circadian rhythm?   It is normally a 24 hour rhythm in your body that involves your body changing temperature up and down.  As your body temperature is in the act of rising you will feel alert. As your body temperature is in the act of falling you will feel sleep. If you body temparature flat lines as is the case with many shift workers you will fill numb and lifeless… neither alert nor sleepy. Most of your bodies processes sync up with your circadian rhythm so when you understand what it is you can change this and thus change many processes including sleep as well as day time alertness.  Drugs and chemicals that cause you to be more or less sleepy effect your circadian rhythms however the biggest modulator of your circadian rhythm is the kinds of light you experience at different times of your 24 hour cycle.  More on that later.

A healthy circadian rhythm involves your lowest body temperature at about 9 AM in the morning. Temperature will slowly rise during the day with a slight dip in body temperature around noon and then continued rising temperature till 9 PM when it peaks. Then as temperature falls during the night you will be more sleepy with a reverse dip at midnight where you might wake up and then continued falling body temperature until 9 AM in the morning again.

2.- Shower hack!

A part of your hypothalamus controls your circadian rhythm, and other factors like levels of lightness and darkness can affect it. At the same time, your body temperature goes up and down one or two degrees during 24 hours in concordance to your cycle. Now that we know this, one way to get your rhythm back into control is by manipulating your body temperature. One very useful hack is either getting a cold shower or hot shower right before you go to sleep. This change in temperature will cause a resetting effect on your body temperature cycle (circadian rhythm) and will get it mostly back in sync with the cycle it should be following, getting you ready to sleep.

3.- Lighting control
As we said before, your cycle can be affected by light and darkness. Certain frequencies of light can seriously mess up your melatonin production. Melatonin is basically the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in our body. Mainly this light will affect the body if perceived by your eyes, but also to some extent by your skin. If the production of this hormone is stopped or partially impaired, your body won’t be able to get ready for sleep. An example of these types of light frequency is blue light. As technology keeps advancing, we have surrounded ourselves with so many sources of blue light it’s ridiculous, especially during the evening.

One thing we can do to regulate the amount of blue light intake, is the use of special glasses that filter different amounts of that specific type of light. You can find these online as orange or red glasses, depending on the amount filtered, and you need to start wearing them about four hours before climbing in bed.

You can get blue light filter apps for your phone and your computer for late night use.

You can also get light bulbs that do not emit blue light.

In the morning it is helpful to get 30 minutes of unfiltered (unfiltered through a window or glass) sunlight even in the winter.   Also doing this mid day will give you a nice boost and help your productivity as well as your sleep later at night. If you can’t get outside in the morning a 1000 watt halogen trouble light with the protective glass removed will help more than coffee to get you all woken up.

4.- Easy on the caffeine!
We are all familiar with the ritual most people have in regard to drinking a cup of coffee in the morning right before they start their day. This is not bad, and it actually brings to the table a whole series of benefits like antioxidants, increased focus, warding off depression, etc. These effects are probably something you’ve heard or read before somewhere – but the thing is, caffeine consumption is something that should be monitored closely depending on the person we’re talking about.

As a rule of thumb, if you have sleep issues you should never have a cup of coffee or any other caffeinated drink after 10:00 am – 12:00 pm depending on how bad the problem is.

Caffeine has a half life of 5 hours which mean that every 4 to 5 hours you will have half the caffeine you previously had in your blood stream. So if you have any sleep issues avoid any caffeine and learn how to be alert with out it. It may be rough at first but you will feel better in the long run.

5.- Mental stimuli
An exciting movie, a  difficult argument unresloved or a nagging problem from earlier on the day?

Any of these things can add additional adrenaline into your blood stream and make it nearly impossible to sleep.

Substitute media with a time to journal, read a calming or boring book, meditate or pray.

6.- Sunlight and Walking
A couple other things you can do to help you regulate your health positively (including your sleep) is to simply go out for a walk for about 30-45 minutes per day. A moderate amount of sunlight and exercise is terrific when it comes to taking care of your body and regulating the systems in it. Remember, walking is not for wimps – it’s for smart people. It helps you think, focus, and just take a breather from whatever is going on at the moment. Try it, and you’ll notice changes like I did.

7.- Earthing
Maybe you’ve heard about this movement, maybe you haven’t. I find it pretty interesting. It basically seeks the improvement of human health through our reconnection with the planet. We’re talking about a physical and energy-based reconnection, getting in touch with the earth’s natural materials directly and “rewiring” ourselves with the planet’s natural energy flows. This movement is all about letting this planet energy to run directly into our bodies, producing all sorts of improvements in our health, by regulating certain frequencies of energy and cleansing our bodies off a whole different set of frequencies we’re constantly being bombarded by. This has also a huge impact in our sleep habits. Just google “Earthing” and you’ll find lots of useful information on the movement if you’re interested.

8.- Stress managing
Stress is one of the main causes for anxiety issues and sleep deprivation, and it comes from several different sources, but it is also one of the easier ones to control if we give ourselves the time. Along with the aforementioned 30-minute walks, we can do several different things in order to combat stress, most of these things are really small but when added up, really make a difference. Some small things you can use in order to regulate your stress levels are: weekly massages, a light and sound machine, therapeutically electromagnetic devices (special mattresses for example), music, warm compresses around your neck, moderate physical activity, or simply laughing at a joke or show. Try any combination of these that you are able to incorporate into your weekly schedule, and even if it’s just a couple times for a few minutes, it will definitely help reduce your stress and increase the quality of your sleep.

9.- Sleep apnea alternative
Many of us have suffered from sleep apnea and the negative effects this brings along with it. This is something that I was diagnosed with myself after struggling with sleep for years.  Many of us have gone through the process of incorporating a CPAP machine into our lives with the sole purpose of correcting this. It works for many people, and it’s not that good for others. From a personal standpoint I’m not too keen on prolonged CPAP machine use, since it’s an external device, practically forcing you to breathe correctly, and I think something that is manipulating your body into working well can’t be ideal in the long run (though better than long term effects of sleep deprivation).

I’d like to suggest a different alternative known as the Buteyko Breathing Technique. This is basically a form of alternative physical therapy, used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma. This method is based on the assumption that numerous medical conditions, including asthma, are caused by chronically increased respiratory rate or hyperventilation, and it offers a series of breathing exercises, designed to gradually correct these issues, some of which have helped me personally correcti sleep apnea. In my opinion, it’s something natural and worthy to look into if you’d prefer an alternative to a CPAP machine.

10.- Don’t mess up your sleep cycles on purpose!
This last bit of information sounds kind of obvious and redundant after everything we’ve gone through in this article but hear me out.

There’s a movement related to polyphonic sleep methods; this method seeks to split your usual long sleep sessions into several smaller ones during the course of 24 hours, getting down to 3-hour sleep total in a 24 hour period. At first, I thought of this as a very interesting and worthy idea, but after trying some of these as well as finding others who also had tried them it’s rare to find anyone is able to maintain them long term and most who tried them found them to be terrible for their health and productivity.  You can find some people who barely sleep and can maintain high productivity but generally you will see these same people have some serious health issues down the line. Sleep research is pretty clear that even if you think you are getting away with less sleep, you almost always get enough reduced productivity to not make the gain in extra wake time worth it, not to mention the potential health issues that can happen due to chronic sleep deprivations.

The Importance of Video Inspections for Property Management

As a property manager, our ultimate goal is to make investment property ownership a stress-free and profitable experience for the property owners we work with. There are many ways we do that and we are constantly striving to find new ways to meet the needs of our property owners.

One of the many services we offer are video inspections. This includes a recorded walk through of the apartment prior to a new tenant moving in as well as a recorded work through of the apartment when the tenant moves out. Video inspections are also provided when large repairs or improvements are being recommended.

We have found the use of video inspections to be beneficial for both us and the property owners we work with. When a property owner decides to work with a property manager, there is a certain level of trust that has to grow in order for that relationship to work.

A video inspection is really efficient and beneficial for all parties involved in a lease.

For example, when a manager contacts the owner to let them know about repairs needed to the property that will cost the owner money, the owner has two options:

  1. Trust the manager is making a good and necessary repair
  2. Refuse the repair until you get verification that it was absolutely necessary. This creates an awkward situation for both the owner and the manager.

One thing we do to eliminate the potential for an awkward situation and to build that trust with the owners is to conduct video inspections. This is effective in several ways. You can see a lot more detail in a video that you can in photo, and it allows us to zoom in on areas of damage while still providing perspective on where the damage is within the property.

A video can also provide a better overall view of the property. This can be especially helpful when comparing the condition of the property when a tenant moves in compared to the condition of the property when the tenant moves out.

Limitations of video inspections

Video inspections can be limited in that it creates a sometimes long process; particularly if you have to look through an entire video just to find one area of damage. However, we mitigate that limitation by using the video inspections in conjunction with a written inspection report.

For example, if a property has exterior damage that needs to be addressed, we can provide a written report detailing the damage, repairs needed, and expected cost along with a video of the damaged area. In this respect, the video will enhance the information provided in the written report.

Interior video inspections while a tenant is living there are sometimes difficult to get due to valid privacy issues for the tenant. However, this particular limitation can be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Benefits of Video Inspections

By providing the video inspections along with inspection reports we are building trust between us and the property owner while eliminating a possible awkward situation of the property owner feeling the need to ask for verification of property damage and repair estimates.

Videos are also helpful when a case goes to court. We have found that video is significantly more effective when a tenant needs to be evicted or taken to court and there is property damage involved. Getting a video tour of the damage has a greater emotional impact than photos. The videos can also be used to show a clearer before and after condition of the property in court.

If a deposit is withheld due to damages and the former tenant argues that they deserve all or part of their deposit back, it is the property owner’s responsibility to prove the damages were legitimate and caused by the tenant. This is when before and after videos are most useful.

Video can also be used to lease properties faster and more effectively. How to leverage the power of video to promote your properties will be covered in How to Use Video to Lease Your Property Faster.

How do you ensure that you find the best tenants for our property?

The key to maximizing profitability and minimizing risk as a landlord has a lot to do with choosing the right tenant. That starts with the marketing of the property, and the energy that can be produced off that. There are a few tricks to creating effective advertisements to help find the best tenants for your properties. You can advertise in the newspaper, on billboards, or on the Internet; however, you may be wasting your time and money advertising to people who either aren’t interested in what you have to offer or aren’t qualified to meet your criteria.

A good ad campaign lets you target and attract the kind of tenant you’re looking for. An advertisement works best when it’s appealing. So, before you decide what information to incorporate, think about what characteristics you value in a tenant. Here are some good examples:

Finding good tenants will, more often than not, prevent you from having to deal with a myriad of problems as a landlord.

· Stable employment

· Pays rent on time

· Has never been evicted or used a landlord as a revolving line of credit

Once you’ve identified characteristics you like in good tenants, think about what factors contribute to a good rental experience for landlord and tenant. What did you as the landlord have to offer your last tenant? Was the last tenant happy and satisfied? Assessing this information will help you decide how to focus on the marketing aspect for the property.

Often you will attract high risk tenants who use landlords as a revolving line of credit when advertising your rental property, so it is imperative that you attempt to identify these tenants immediately. Here at RTS, we have a very specific checklist process for screening tenants and filtering out bad elements for your property. Sometimes we even go as far as contacting up to two previous landlords for the potential tenant in order to verify their background. This can get tricky, since some landlords will lie in order to either keep their tenant (say they’re awful when they’re not) or lie in order to get them to leave (they will say they’re great when they’re not). This is why we have such a detailed process, and it will reduce the risk of you getting a bad tenant for a good property.

It’s important to note that, if the marketing aspect of the property is done right at the beginning, usually bad tenants will filter themselves out even before the screening begins. Rest assured though, that we will do our best to get you the best tenants we can find for you to do business with.

Did your property manager lie to you about value?

After years of experience in the industry I have learned that it’s a really common practice for many real estate agents to not only mis-value properties during their first encounter with the owner, but also declare a fixed price for it, in hopes of trying to get your business. This goes for both rental price evaluation and sales price evaluation.  You would think that, since they are professionals, they probably know about this and have the expertise needed to place a price on your home or apartment with one look. Well you would be wrong.

One very important thing to remember is that value is not a synonym of price. In general terms, the word price represents the amount of money that is asked for in order to purchase a certain something. Pretty basic right? That’s when value comes in. Value represents the actual benefit you are gaining by paying a price at the time you make a purchase. Value is that extra space you would love to have in your bedroom for a triple dresser. Or those extra square feet you need in your backyard for the vegetable garden you want to grow. Or a good view of the beach from the second floor.

And this is why stating that your property is worth a fixed amount and can only go for a certain price is plain wrong. It is wrong because even when an expert is able to assess the approximate worth of a property based its characteristics and recent history, a whole set of additional circumstances go along with that into actually defining the end value of the same property for individual potential buyers.

Maybe there’s a very specific circumstance in relation to the neighborhood surrounding the property that will give one buyer a less attractive standpoint in regards to the value of the property while at the same time, another person will actually offer an additional premium due to the fact that its really close to their workplace. In the second case, as this happens, and this new offer appears due to a single need met by this specific property, the market value begins to vary. This is basic supply and demand going into action.

Being lied to about the value of your business and finding out later can be a taxing experience.

For this same reason, when stating a property’s potential worth, it’s common practice to use ranges when speaking about actual pricing. This way agents take into account a variation of value that a set of different additional circumstances offer, as well as other changes in market behaviour that could very well affect the value of the property at any given time.

So, if you get to meet a new agent and he/she instantly states a fixed pricing for your property, always remember – they are either lying to you, or they have a crystal ball.

Should I have someone manage my rental properties?

rental properties

Investment property comes with unavoidable risk.

This is a question I hear a lot. People want to know if they should manage their rental properties themselves or hire a property manager. In order to answer that question, I have a couple questions for you.

Do you have real estate experience and can you handle high stress situations? Managing rental properties is a stressful job. Are you the kind of person that can stay calm and level-headed in a stressful situation? Can you manage emergencies calmly? Can you keep your cool when someone is trying your patience? These are some of the attributes you need to deal with tenants on a day-to-day basis.

Tenants bring drama and have ways of attempting to control the situation. They may call in the middle of the night or make constant demands. They may try to guilt you into accepting their excuses for not paying rent or for making concessions you wouldn’t normally agree to. Can you deal with these emotions? A manager will insulate you from possible mental and emotional abuse.

Having  a manager helps with these emotions by dealing with the tenants directly. Managers create a buffer between you and the chaos. However, there are some emotions a manager can not help alleviate.

Can you handle the emotions that come with risk and property ownership?  A manager can help deal with the tenants but they cannot take out the risks involved. This is addressed in Should I be a Landlord? There will always be risk in owning rental properties. Things happen. Bad tenants happen. Property damage happens. natural disasters happen. As property managers we work to decrease many of the risks, but we cannot promise they will never happen. You have to be able to deal with the risks that come along with owning rentals.

Do you have the time to manage your properties?  We take care of the day-to-day needs allowing you to use your time in other ways. We have several successful systems in place that allow us to manage a multitude of properties seamlessly.

Are you a control freak? We see this a lot with landlords that have been in the business for years and have been managing their own properties. They want us to do everything their way, but that won’t work for us. Our systems work and to try to manage different properties using different systems or procedures would be hectic and take way too much time. When landlords decide to work with us, they need to take that leap of faith and allow us to manage them our way using our systems. If this is something you can not let go of, you may be better offer hiring an employee to help you with the day-to-day work instead of hiring a property manager.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

 

Should I be a landlord in Cleveland, Ohio?

Cleveland, Ohio is a very unique market

Do you have what it takes to be a landlord? That is an important question to ask yourself before you start buying rental properties. Unfortunately, there are a lot of courses out there encouraging people with the benefits of property ownership without explaining the risks involved.

Cleveland, Ohio is a very diverse area with a lot of different zip codes, and the zip code you buy property in will make a huge difference in what your experience is as a landlord. Do you know the area you are looking at buying properties? Again, there are courses that make being an out of the area landlord sound glamorous, but you are taking a real risk buying properties in an area you’ve never seen before.

Are you a worry wart? If the answer is yes then you should not be a landlord. You probably should not be in business at all. Stick with safe investments like bonds. You won’t have the potential for large returns, but you also won’t have the risk of a total loss.

Do you have financial limitations? For many, they go into real estate with no extra income. Don’t invest all of your retirement savings into real estate. Yes, there are success stories of people who spent their last hundred dollars to get into the business and ended up millionaires, but that is not the norm, and there is a lot more to the story than what you may hear.

If you have no cash reserves, you are taking a significant risk. A single natural disaster or sewer collapse could financial destroy you. You’ll be left waiting for the insurance to pay out to make the needed repairs, or the insurance will refuse the claim, which can happen, and then you have to pay out of pocket. You MUST have cash reserve for the worst case scenario.

Often times people are blinded by the potential and fail to see the risk. You need to have an investment mindset, which means you think long-term. Can you do that?

Can you put 20% “true” equity down on a property. Housing prices are not always what they seem and properties do not always follow national trends. I’ve seen landlords try to sell a house “as is” because they are mad about damage made by a tenant. What they don’t realize is that $5,000 worth of damage can drop the value of the home $50,000. This may not sound fair and it may not be fair, but it is the reality of the situation. If buyers have to put work into the home, they are going to want it for well below market value.

You need to understand the Cleveland market and know what you are getting into. Otherwise, do not invest in Cleveland and don’t be a landlord.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

Why property managers require additional insurance…questions about insurance and landlording

Why would a property manager require additional insurance?

Well the big reason is to protect you the landlord client. There are many risks when managing and owning rental property. If you are sued for any reason we will most likely be sued. Yet when you agree to work with our company and most any other manager we are indemnified by our clients for these risks.  The main problem is that if we are not named on your insurance policy the attorney your insurance policy appoints will only represent you and not us and we will have to incur a separate attorney to represent us. Those attorneys may then fight or might work together. Either way we end up no longer being in the same corner and our clients could find themselves in the positions of paying not just the insurance deductible but also our attorneys fees. Our clients don’t want that to happen nor do we.

 

Why do we have to have your insurance information as an owner?

Winters alone in Northeastern Ohio have been fairly difficult this year for landlords. Between ice dams, water backups and freezes in 2015, I’ve seen damages from just a few hundred dollars all the way to $30,000 PLUS! When an emergency arises property managers need to be able to contact the contractors covered, we need to know what is covered, and what can we actually pay for. You don’t want to call an owner in the middle of the night or an insurance agent for that matter asking a million questions. That would just delay the whole process and possibly cause more damages to the property. To be prepared for an emergency you need to have a copy of the owner’s insurance policy. Make this a requirement and add the copy to the property file.

Do you know what your policy covers?

Many homeowners don’t. I suggest calling your insurance company and asking what your coverage is. Somethings you want to try to purchase is the loss of rent coverage. It is a little more expensive to purchase but definitely worth it. If a tenant moves out a few months before their lease is up then your policy covers those months of rent that you would lose. You also want to make sure your policy covers water back up, for when the sewer gets backed up. We all know this is just something that happens.Another requirement we have added is tenant insurance.

Why do we require your tenants to purchase tenant insurance?

It is very affordable ranging from $9-$15 a month. We are able to ensure the landlord’s name is included on the policy. Require your tenants to purchase a policy through you. You will be able to ensure the landlord’s name is included on the policy. Requiring this will add double coverage to the home. As well as take care of a lot of issues when you have an insurance claim. For example, if your tenant has to stay in a hotel for a night due to a water leak  Who doesn’t want that? Your home should also be covered if there is damage caused by tenant negligence. It will also help you take care of several issues when tenants do have a claim. Hotel stays, for example, are one of the coverages that many tenant insurance policies include.  Many insurance companies will give a discount on your policy when you require tenants to purchase insurance. This is one way we help landlords when they need it most!

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money!

Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

 

Collecting rent….

You have to be careful when it comes to collections.
Yes, as an owner you do have rights. But so do your tenants. And it’s critically important that you know what those rights are— yours and theirs— as spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code, as well as other collections-specific laws.

This is something we make a concentrated effort to keep up with because laws change all the time.  We make sure that all of our employees are keeping up to date in these areas. There are multiple dangers associated with collecting rent on a property.

A local landlord here in Ohio even recently made the news because he carried out what’s called a “non-judicial” eviction. Basically, he went into the house and started evicting his tenants and the tenant told the police that he had no right to go in there. And he didn’t. That’s a criminal act. He actually went to jail for a short time for that.

Which is to say— our job at Realty Trust Services is to collect the money our owners are due… AND keep our owners from going to jail in the process.

One basic rule we try to follow is a process we use to demonstrate to the tenant that we really are serious. We prioritize rent over a lot of other things because a lot of tenants actually have the money, they just have bad money management skills. They get behind and one thing leads to another.

We try to prevent that from happening, but at the same time, we have to balance our collections tactics with a personal touch so that people actually WANT to pay.

It’s very easy to go too far with collections and press people too hard, too many times, which makes them decide not to pay just out of spite.

So we prioritize getting the rent as soon as possible.

Ultimately, that’s a lot more important than being someone’s friend.

Have a great day— be a great landlord.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money!

Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

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