Help! Problems with our first properties.

DianneDachyshyn

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Oct 21, 2007
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#1
We could use some help. We are new REIN members who bought a duplex in Grande Prairie in July. We took possession mid-August and have yet to find renters.

We are on our second property manager. The first one didn`t even put signs in the windows. Both companies tell us that the market is dead and that they can`t rent our places out so the best way to handle it is to lower the rent.

Investors in the area tell us this isn`t so, that our rent of $1800 (two investors suggested that $1900 was more likely) is reasonable and that there is no shortage of renters.

Last week, we lowered our rent to $1600, which is lower than we want or think is fair. These are great properties, in a terrific neighbourhood (Mission) only 4 years old and immaculate.

We don`t know what to do next. We want to take charge of this, but we live in Edmonton. We want to advertise, but we think that we should raise the rent or at least settle on the rent once and for all (we have changed it down and back more than once). Maybe we should open it up to pets and raise the rent at the same time?

Any tips would help. These are our first properties and they are 100% financed. It`s costly to carry them, and we feel as if we cannot buy more properties until we have this settled. In addition, the management company is charging us $50 a month as long as they are vacant!

Help!
 

albertaonfire

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Aug 31, 2007
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#4
Pretend you are a renter, do all the internet searches that you would do if you were looking to find a place to live in Grande Prairie. Check out the best adds on the sites and find out who manages them...Speak with that property management company.
Corey
 

mortgageman

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Aug 31, 2007
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#5
I would suggest you head up to Grande Prairie ASAP and do whatever it takes to market your property. Pamphleting car windshields at the mall/arena would be one low-cost way to get a large audience.
As mentioned in a previous post get your ad on kijiji. Also do craigslist.com
Call the local police station/hospital/government office and let them know you`d love to rent to one of their new employees.
Who are the biggest employers in town? Call their HR departments and see if they have new employees who need a home.
A weekend in Grande Prairie pounding the pavement will be far cheaper (you can sleep and cook at the property after all) than carrying an empty property.
Hope this helps and good luck!
 

PaulPoulsen

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Sep 23, 2007
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#6
I agree with the above poster that you`ll need to head to Grande Prairie and take charge of the situation. I`m under the impression that the vacancy rate in GP is effectively 0% so I would think that the property should be rented by this point.

When we have properties to rent we:

1 - Clean the unit from top to bottom. The first thing I want to smell when I open the front door is Javex/PineSol/cleaning product of your choice.
2 - Take LOTS of pictures of each room, LOTS of pictures of the outside/yard, and LOTS of pictures of the inside AND outside of the garage (if applicable).
3 - Write a description of the property. Try to paint a picture for your prospective tenant. The following is the description for one of our condos here in Edmonton.

Located in the north eastern neighbourhood of Fraser, this beautifully renovated 2-bedroom apartment style condominium has a master bedroom with a walk-in closet, a large balcony and a very spacious kitchen. Linoleum, carpet and laminate flooring extend throughout the unit.
Having just been renovated, this unit is clean and modern. There`s a large kitchen that boasts a passthrough to the dining area, a dishwasher, an electric stove and a fridge.
Immediately off the kitchen is a large living room with laminate floors. A patio door leads out onto the balcony that overlooks the complex`s own park/play area.
Down the hallway on your way to the bedrooms, you`ll find the bathroom. It has linoleum floors and is outfitted with a new vanity and a very stylish sink and faucet.
Just past the bathroom are both bedrooms. Both the master and second bedrooms are a good size and the master bedroom has a large walk-in closet. Both rooms have been upgraded with Berber carpet.
There`s a convenience store and a bowling alley just half-a-block from the complex and there`s a large number of stores and shops all along Victoria Trail. A Sobey`s grocery store, Rexall Drugs, and Giant Tiger department store are all within 20 blocks of home. Costco, WalMart, Future Shop, Superstore, Home Depot, Staples, Empire Theatre, and much more are all in close proximity to the condo.
Other amenities include a separate storage room, on-site laundry and a reserved parking stall.
The unit has been very well maintained and someone is always available in the unlikely event that you have a problem. You should be neat, quiet and respectful of your neighbours. Also, pets – small or otherwise – are NOT permitted nor is smoking. In return, you`ll be treated with great respect by managers that are committed to taking tremendous care of both you and the unit in which you live.
A damage deposit of $750 will be held in trust and you`ll be expected to sign a six-month lease. References and a credit check will also be required for each person that will be living in the unit.

4) Take your pictures and your description and upload them to a rental website of your choosing. We use GottaRent.com and RentFaster.ca and have had great results but I keep hearing lots of good things about kijiji.ca. We also run classified ads in the Journal (sorry Don). We keep it simple and stay away from abbreviations. Something like, "Beautiful NE 3 bedroom home for rent. Call the best landlord you`ll ever have at xxx-xxxx."
5) Get a large "For Rent" sign from Home Depot or Rona or where ever and stick it in the property`s front yard. If city bylaws allow, place a second sign with the home`s address at the nearest major intersection to drive traffic to your property.
6) Have lots of rental applications and lots of pens on hand. There`s nothing worse than having more prospective tenants than than you do supplies.

Something else we do is have a tenant basket sitting on the kitchen counter when we show the property. When prospective tenants walk through, they always ask, "Did the last person forget to take something with them when they moved?" We then get to explain that the basket is actually a welcome present for the next tenant, whoever he or she may be. That usually gets their interest.

Once you find a tenant you think has promise, make sure you check his/her references and do a credit check. I can`t tell you how many times I`ve met someone super nice that had good references only to discover that his/her credit history is a total horror show. I honestly feel bad when I have to make the phone call and say, "I`m sorry but your credit history isn`t where we need it to be," but I imagine I`d feel even worse when I`m trying to collect three months of back rent.

I`d like it if you`d send an email if you have further questions or need me to explain something better. I`d be more than happy to chat on the phone or get together for a coffee.

Don`t let finding a tenant get you down. You`ll get the hang of it and then you`ll be off to the races.
 

BHoward

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Aug 30, 2007
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Calgary, AB
#7
Great suggestion Mortgage Man Jason ...

In the words of Donald Trump ... `Doing nothing is easy, but who wants nothing`.

... I`m not suggesting that the owner is not working.
Somehow you are running into bad luck with Grand Praire. Work hard to get it fixed.
Go spend a weekend ... meet your property manager.

Put an ad in Newspaper on Thursday morning ... with your cell phone. Plan to spend all day Saturday beating the street ... in GP ... get a meeting with property manager ... try to get prospective tenants calling you and meeting you. Get their feedback first hand.

Real Estate Investing is mostly easy ... but there are bumps.

Be persistent. Good luck.
 

SamEfford

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Aug 30, 2007
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Fort McMurray, Alberta
#8
I had no luck with property management in GP. I spoke with most of them, and all of the rents were undervalued by them. Try the internet like others said above.

There is a member on here that strictly invests in GP. Hopefully he will see this and reply. Maybe he could help you out.
 

mcmaz

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Oct 24, 2007
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Grande Prairie
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#9
We currently own and manage properties in Grande Prairie. In no way should you have to lower your rent. By lowering your rent you are attracting a different type of tenant or `customer`. I`m not sure if that is what you want. Currently all our units are full and we`ve just purchased 3 more. In the last week we`ve got 2 of them rented ranging from $1800-2000 with quality teneants. The properties that you have are in a good area so there should be no reason to lower your rent. I`d suggest marketing your property differently (other than the regualar 3 bed 2 bath) and in different locations other than the news paper. The Bargain Hunter is a free publication that is cirulated around the GP region. We`ve had good success with it. Hope that helps!


Jason
 

DianneDachyshyn

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Oct 21, 2007
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Edmonton
#10
Many thanks to all of you who took time to answer my plea for help. We raised our rent back to $1800 and have submitted some ads using the Solid Oak Marketing method. We are hopeful that they will produce results. Our property management company is considering canceling our contract, and we have decided to manage it on our own for the time being. Another REIN member has graciously offered to show the property for us and he has been a great support to help us learn the ropes of interviewing and screening future tenants.

We are definitely in new territory and much learning is required, but we feel much more confident and in control of the situation now that we have set our rent and are taking action.


This forum is a great resource. Thanks again!
 

ToddStokowski

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Oct 26, 2007
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Canmore, Alberta
www.housez.ca
#11
Hello Rascal. I do not know the Grande Prarie market place, but you may consider advertising your home on the internet. There are some great tips on the REIN website regarding writing an ad. When we advertise, our best luck are lawn signs (I realize distance is an issue, but considering your investment in the house and rental income, making the trip will work out to a great hourly rate).

I trust it will all work out in the long run, just a bumpy start. Remember to think long term.

Good luck.

Todd


QUOTE (Rascal @ Oct 22 2007, 05:18 PM) We could use some help. We are new REIN members who bought a duplex in Grande Prairie in July. We took possession mid-August and have yet to find renters.

We are on our second property manager. The first one didn`t even put signs in the windows. Both companies tell us that the market is dead and that they can`t rent our places out so the best way to handle it is to lower the rent.

Investors in the area tell us this isn`t so, that our rent of $1800 (two investors suggested that $1900 was more likely) is reasonable and that there is no shortage of renters.

Last week, we lowered our rent to $1600, which is lower than we want or think is fair. These are great properties, in a terrific neighbourhood (Mission) only 4 years old and immaculate.

We don`t know what to do next. We want to take charge of this, but we live in Edmonton. We want to advertise, but we think that we should raise the rent or at least settle on the rent once and for all (we have changed it down and back more than once). Maybe we should open it up to pets and raise the rent at the same time?

Any tips would help. These are our first properties and they are 100% financed. It`s costly to carry them, and we feel as if we cannot buy more properties until we have this settled. In addition, the management company is charging us $50 a month as long as they are vacant!

Help!
 

Ryan

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Oct 21, 2007
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#12
Hi Rascal,

Have you thought about changing your target audience on the property and renting out individual rooms etc? You could hit an auction and get some attractive furnishings for the common areas, provide basic cable and telephone (which you can lock down) and then rent out your rooms. Even renting out one room would work well to reduce your carrying costs.

I had a friend who did this here in Edmonton with great success. Bear in mind that if you do this you will fall under the scope of the Inn Keepers Act and not the LL&T Act so brush up on that before heading in.

Good luck on renting out that property !

Regards,
 

DianneDachyshyn

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Oct 21, 2007
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Edmonton
#14
Just want to give everyone an update. Wayne and I are in Grande Prairie. We took the advice of several of you and drove up on Friday. We weren`t feeling too confident and weren`t sure what we were going to do when we arrived. On the way, I read from The Law of Attraction, and we wrote out our desire for the ideal tenant, etc.

We had to go to the management company to get keys because they had changed the locks. When we were there, the manager told us that we would never rent our place at $1800. She said to set our rent at $1600. We drove to the house and on the way, the phone rang. Someone had seen our ad in the paper and wanted to see the house. We were surprised because we didn`t think that we had an ad in the paper. We went for supper and bought a paper. There it was! The paper ran our ad for a second week (or maybe just an extra day, we don`t know) without our knowledge.

We met the couple and they rented it immediately, for $1800! Now we are buzzing around town putting up signs and posters.

I will let you know when we rent out the other side.

Thanks for all your help, everyone.

Wayne and Dianne
 

DonCampbell

Investor, Analyst, Author, Philanthropist
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Aug 22, 2007
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#16
That`s fantastic news.

The real difference? Being a pro-active owner, doing whatever it takes to make your business a success.

CONGRATULATIONS!

P.S. Save a copy of that ad so you can use it again in the future... it obviously worked.
 

timk519

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Sep 20, 2007
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#17
QUOTE (Rascal @ Nov 3 2007, 04:55 PM) When we were there, the manager told us that we would never rent our place at $1800. She said to set our rent at $1600. We drove to the house and on the way, the phone rang. Someone had seen our ad in the paper and wanted to see the house. We were surprised because we didn`t think that we had an ad in the paper. We went for supper and bought a paper. There it was! The paper ran our ad for a second week (or maybe just an extra day, we don`t know) without our knowledge.

We met the couple and they rented it immediately, for $1800! Now we are buzzing around town putting up signs and posters. Congratulations! Wonder what the management company`ll say...
 

vik

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Nov 2, 2007
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#18
Hello
My opinion is go to diffrent -diffrent community grocries stores and put a flyer there in their own language .you can ask the grocery store owner to write in their language and stick there somewhere. because so many people they don`t know english or some they know but they don`t read english newspaper . so if somebody see ad for rent on their own community grocery store for sure they will show intreast . that way you are targetting every community. Try this you will be fine thats my personal experience.
 

mortgageman

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Edmonton, Alta.
#19
Congratulations! Great job guys. Perhaps you should have a serious talk with your management company. Maybe other Grande Prairie investors will let you know who they are using and getting positive results.
Jason


QUOTE (vik @ Nov 4 2007, 12:32 AM) Hello
My opinion is go to diffrent -diffrent community grocries stores and put a flyer there in their own language .you can ask the grocery store owner to write in their language and stick there somewhere. because so many people they don`t know english or some they know but they don`t read english newspaper . so if somebody see ad for rent on their own community grocery store for sure they will show intreast . that way you are targetting every community. Try this you will be fine thats my personal experience.
 

GarthChapman

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Aug 30, 2007
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#20
What a great example of the REIN community reaching out to help with advice, and a new Investor acting on that advice and having success. This should now be a Success Story post!