Tag Archives: renting your home

Investment Property Inspection and Reinspection Ordinance

Boston’s real estate market has a somewhat transient nature. The high number of colleges and universities along with medical and financial jobs opportunities lead to thousands of people moving in and around the Boston area every year. We see this in the sales market but much more so in the rental market. Because of the need for rental housing, savvy investors purchase investment property they then offer as apartments for rent.

The way to build wealth in real estate is to buy and hold on to property, which is why most people buy condos in the city now with the idea of renting when they move to something bigger later. However, many investors think on a larger scale. They don’t see one condo to rent out, they want the whole building. Both types of landlords are great and much needed in this city, however some changes are in the works that investors should know about.

Since Boston has hundreds of colleges and thousands of students, dorms are constantly full. The appeal of being off campus in a vibrant city can also make dorm living seem less than attractive. Unfortunately for them, not everyone rents to undergraduate students (students are not a protected class, so landlords can refuse to rent to them). For undergraduates, options are slim and not very ideal. In fact, some conditions are downright inhumane. It is with this in mind that the City of Boston, has been drafting and re-drafting a new law to increase rental property inspections and have owners that do not seem to care about their properties, tenants, and neighbors, take more responsibility.

New ordinance for investment property in BostonPresently, inspections only occur when the lease expires. The proposed law, Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance, will mandate inspections of over 140,000 rental apartment units in Boston, with each unit inspected at least once every 5 years. Owners would be required to register for $25 per unit and pay a $15 annual fee. Prices are higher for any owner who wants to enroll in an alternative compliance plan available to property owners in good standing and a favorable history of compliance. The new ordinance includes any owner who rents out their condominiums. The law requires owners to report any transfer of ownership within 30 days of closing and stipulates the owner of the property (or the acting agent for a trust) have their name, address, and phone number on the mailbox at the property. A P.O. Box does not comply with the address requirement. It also requires any non-local owner to have a Boston-based resident agent.

The goal of this new law is to protect many of the tenants living in problem properties and to force the owners to take offenses seriously. “Problem Properties” are considered by the city as properties that the Police Department has been called to no fewer than four times, the Air Pollution Control Commission has received no fewer than four complaints, or the Inspection Services Department or Public Health Commission has received new fewer than four complaints all within a 12 month period.

The vote to pass this new ordinance can happen as early at December 19th, go into effect on January 1st, and have owners register by July 1st. For those about to buy investment property, keep these new rules in mind, the fees will affect your bottom line depending on the size and location of your building.

UPDATE: The Boston City Council voted 9-4 to approve the rental registration ordinance on December 19, 2012.

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About to View Property? Here are Some Do’s and Don’ts

Not too many people put much thought into etiquette these days even when going to view property to buy or rent. It’s not anyone’s fault, it is just how society has evolved. When I talk about etiquette, I don’t mean to conjure images of Victorian Britain and reruns of Upstairs Downstairs. I am simply speaking of the basics in proper behavior dictated by certain situations. For example, appropriate behavior does exist when one is going to view property. It’s nothing complex, it is common sense behavior that follows the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

For those who are just starting their search to buy property or rent property in Boston please help us help you.

First, if you are working with a Realtor, be aware that just because you are available in the next hour, your Realtor, the listing agent, or the current occupant might not be. If you are available within the hour, do let your realtor know but also give other times you are available.

Second, when you are going to view property, bring everyone that needs to see it. Inventory in Boston is limited and moves fast. If this property is for roommates, a couple, or a single occupant that needs parent approval, make sure everyone can see it. I am not saying multiple showings are inappropriate, but in the time it takes to schedule and reschedule showings, someone else can come in and scoop it up.

Third, even if the listing is pet-friendly, leave the dog at home. Again, this property is someone else’s home and that someone may choose to not have a pet regardless of the pet policy. They may have allergies or a fear of dogs and forcing one into their home is disrespectful. Or they may have pets that may not want another animal in their home.

Fourth, don’t ask to use the bathroom. Just don’t.

Fifth, if you are looking at property for sale, look beyond the paint and the furniture. This was how the current or previous owner made it their home, you can change it to make it yours. When comments about the decor are being made, one is not always sure who may be listening. Not to mention those comments are irrelevant and off-topic when it comes to the task at hand, which is finding your next home.

These are not fixed rules; there may be agents who disagree with some of these, and there may be agents who have even more rules. We are not trying to make anyone on edge when viewing property, because buying property is stressful enough without thinking about behavior at the viewing. All we ask is to think of it in this way: If you are planning to rent or sell your property, think about how you would want people to treat you and your property when viewing it.

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Renting Your Home that has Not Sold

If your property has been sitting on the sales market for a while and you have already moved, you may want to consider renting your home. A tenant’s rent payment can pay for the mortgage, which can take off the pressure that might cause you to make rash financial decisions. You may decide in the end to keep the home as an investment property or you could wait until the market improves to sell your property.

The housing market has been on a roller coaster to say the least and Boston has not been immune. Rental property in Boston continues to be in high demand. But before you decide on renting your home consider a few things.

When to start the lease is an important factor to consider. September 1st has the most turnover of any date for rentals in Boston and any time between the spring and September 1 is considered to be “in season.” Winter is the worst time for renting your home because less people are looking for housing at that time of year.

South End Brownstone that can be Rented Out while on Sales MarketBecause Boston’s rental market has such dramatic seasons, you need to factor this into your decision of how long of a lease you want. If you want to keep your home on the sales market, a short-term lease gives you the most flexibility but there is the risk of gaps in occupancy. Also know that most short-term tenants want their rental to be furnished. Fortunately there are many companies throughout Boston that will furnish a home for a monthly rate, but furnishing a condo or a house is not cheap.

To secure a long-term tenant, it would be best to commit to taking your property off the sales market once a lease in in place since tenants are unlikely to commit to the possibility of showing the property for sale and then having to move if a sale does occur. With a long-term lease you would be less likely to have gaps in occupancy and you can structure the lease length to work to your advantage. For instance, if you want to put your home back up for sale in a year, have the lease run until the end of January or February of the following year, so you can have it ready for the spring sales market.

You will also need to figure out a fair price to ask for renting your home. Like pricing your home for sale, the right price for renting your home can have it rented quickly. For the best insight into the current market, get the opinion of knowledgeable Realtors.

Renting your home can be a great option if isn’t selling, but it is important that you know what options are available and what will work best for you. For more information, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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Posted in Property for Sale, Real Estate Sales Market, Rental Property, Sell property | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment