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Casteel Real Estate Professionals

  • 10/21/2013

    Qualifications for Lease Applications


     

    CREDIT HISTORY
    ·   We will process your application by obtaining a copy of your credit report
    ·   Not all delinquent accounts will negatively impact your application, but a risk assessment will be made based upon your ability to maintain the monthly payment schedule. Applications that represent a higher risk may be charged a security deposit of up to one and a half times the monthly rent.
    ·   Bankruptcy is acceptable provided it has been discharged and recent payment history is satisfactory.
    ·   Foreclosures and short sales are acceptable provided the rent is less than your previous mortgage amount or a substantial increase of income is noted.
    ·   All employment requirements must be met.

    WORK HISTORY
    ·   Minimum of six months steady work history is required. Transfers and new employers in the same career field are acceptable.
    ·   Gross monthly income MUST be at least three (3) times the rent amount.
    ·   Income and employment must be verifiable. Pay statements and work history with contact information is required.

    RENTAL/OWNERSHIP HISTORY
    ·   No broken leases or evictions in past three years are accepted without pre-payment of the full lease.
    ·   Short sales/foreclosures acceptable as long as lease amount is less than previous mortgage payment.

    DEPOSITS
    ·   All deposits and applicable charges must be received in certified funds, money order or cashier’s check and are due at lease signing.
    ·   Security deposit is typically the equivalent of one month’s rent. In some cases, such as low credit scores, misdemeanor criminal record, short-term lease or other riskier cases, this amount may be increased
    ·   First month’s rent is due prior to receiving access to the property. If lease begins on any day other than the first of the month, the FULL month’s rent amount is due for the first month. The second month’s rent is due the first day of the second month, but is prorated based upon the move-in date.
    ·   Monthly payments will be made in accordance with the lease agreement and are payable electronically.  If for any reason you choose not to sign the lease agreement or not move into the property for which you have applied following approval of this application, all deposits received are forfeited.
    ·   Applicable charges:
    o   Non-refundable cleaning fee of $225.00 ($275.00 for homes larger than 2,000 sq ft)
    o   A one-time administrative fee of $75
    o   Applicable city rental tax

    All co-signers must meet the same criteria in order to be accepted and must sign all documents, including but not limited to the lease agreement and incorporated documents.

    PETS
    · Pets are allowed when approved in writing by the property owner or agent. Pets may not be allowed at all at some properties. An additional fee of $300.00 is required if pets are approved.

    INSURANCE
    · You are strongly encouraged to obtain renters insurance. The owner’s insurance policy does not cover your personal belongings.

    UTILITIES
    · You must turn on all required utility services (water, trash, sewer, gas, electric or others) before you take occupancy of the property.
    · You must immediately report any problems you might discover in the process. If you are renting a new house that has gas service, you will need to apply for service at lease six days ahead of occupancy to ensure that it can be connected prior to your occupancy.


    We have a high standard in the preparation of rental units. Any request to make changes in the current condition of the property or terms of the lease agreement must be in writing at the time of application. These requests will be considered at the same time your application is processed. There are no verbal agreements. All changes to the property or agreement must be approved by the owner and signed by our company broker or property manager. You will be given a move-in inspection form and asked to fill it out and return it to our office within five (5) days.

    We welcome all applicants and we support equal housing opportunities for everybody. Casteel Real Estate Professionals strives to provide the highest quality real estate services possible. We look forward to working with you.

  • 10/15/2013

    Two-day Notice to Enter


    As a tenant, imaging waking up one morning to the sounds of a roofer pulling and nailing concrete tiles to your home’s roof.  The visit is completely unexpected and, as it was your one day off in the week, quite unwelcomed.  This is the scenario that occurs all to frequently in one form or another.  What we see in this is two differing needs and sets of goals converging in an unpleasant manner.
    The landlord has the responsibility to maintain the home in a safe and habitable manner.  They also have the right to protect and improve their investment.  However, these needs must be balanced with the tenants’ rights and expectations of privacy.

    The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act addresses this situation to reach a reasonable compromise between the two parties’ goals.  Section 33-1343 paragraph D states:

    The landlord shall not abuse the right to access or use it to harass the tenant. Except in case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least two days' notice of the landlord's intent to enter and enter only at reasonable times.

    Landlords, look at how the state views the situation.  They recognize your right to access the property, but they also acknowledge that this right could come into conflict with a tenants’ reasonable expectation of privacy.  As a result, the state established the compromise of requiring two-days’ notice prior to entering the property.  This notice must be in writing.  If a landlord regularly communicates with their tenant via email, then email notice is acceptable.  However, if the landlord wants to cover their bases, registered mail or hand-served by a service company is the best solution.

    Notice the state gives landlords one out: Except in case of the emergency or if it is impracticable to do so.  If a neighbor calls the owner and states there is water flowing out from under the front door, the landlord may immediately enter the property to protect the home.  If the maintenance need is not an emergency—a threat to the physical integrity of the property—then entrance to the property falls under the two-day notice requirement. 

    A couple of notes on this.  First, subcontractors, agents, and employees of the landlord are all required to follow the two-day notice requirement.  They are considered extensions of the landlord.  Second, tenants who have a maintenance request are welcome to admit the landlord earlier than the two days, but they must agree to do so.  Think of the comparison between the two-day notice and a tenant-initiated maintenance request as being similar to comparing a search warrant and an invitation.  One is far more intrusive and compliance-driven than the other.  As always, good and regular communication between landlords and tenants will alleviate nearly all misunderstandings.

    * * * * *

    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 08/15/2013

    Notice of Intent to Terminate the Lease in Arizona


    All good things must come to an end, or so the saying goes.  But how does one terminate a lease agreement in Arizona when the lease period expires?  There are two answers to this question.
    First, a year-to-year lease, which is a typical 12-month residential lease, has a contractual end date associated with the lease agreement.  If the lease does not specify a transition, such as an automatic continuance as a month-to-month lease, the lease automatically terminates. Here’s the language from ARS 33-1375

    If the tenant remains in possession without the landlord's consent after expiration of the term of the rental agreement or its termination, the landlord may bring an action for possession and if the tenant's holdover is willful and not in good faith the landlord, in addition, may recover an amount equal to not more than two months' periodic rent or twice the actual damages sustained by the landlord, whichever is greater. If the landlord consents in writing to the tenant's continued occupancy, section 33-1314, subsection D applies.

    Most leases, including the Arizona Association of REALTORS Residential Lease Agreement, state that in the absence of either the tenant or the landlord terminating the lease, the lease shall automatically convert to month-to-month.  However, this language must be a part of the lease agreement in order to apply.  If the lease does have an automatic continuance or if the lease is already month-to-month, the tenant (or landlord) must provide notice of intent to terminate.

    The notice of intent to terminate the lease must be provided prior to the last rental due date of the original term.  ARS 33-1375 states it this way:  “The landlord or the tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by a written notice given to the other at least thirty days prior to the periodic rental date specified in the notice.”

    In English, this means that if the 12-month lease for an Arizona property terminates on September 30th, the tenant must provide notice of intent to terminate to the landlord before September 1st.  Please note it says before September 1st, not on or after.  Likewise, a notice for a month-to-month lease must be provided in a similar timeframe.  The tenant must provide notice in August to terminate the lease at the end of September.  

    Also, keep in mind that there is no proration of rent.  The agreement between landlord and tenant is that the tenant will rent the property in one-month increments.  The term 30-day notice is a misnomer, as the entire phrase is "30 days prior to the periodic rental date," which is the first of the month.  Whether the tenant provides notice on the 2nd, 15th, or 27th of the month does not matter; the lease terminates on the last day of the following month.

    Have questions? Contact Alex Casteel with Casteel Real Estate Professionals at alex@azreg.com for Arizona residential property management, or to buy or sell residential real estate in Arizona.
     
    * * * * *
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 07/10/2013

    Personal property: Should it stay or should it go?

    Landlording is filled with many rewards and challenges.  Everyone has heard stories about the 2 a.m. call about a leaking toilet or the tenant who used the cabinets as kindling for family room bonfire.  But one of the more common challenges I see landlords struggling with, particularly those who are moving away and converting their primary residence into a rental property, is determining what to do with excess personal property.  You know, the stuff they don’t really want to take with them.  So does it stay, or should it go?

    As a rule, owners should remove everything that is not fastened down in the home.  Leave nothing behind.  There are, of course, exceptions, but they are just that…an exception!  Leaving behind the refrigerator, washer, and dryer is good form, as is leaving behind remote controls for ceiling fans.  Other smart things to leave behind are touch-up paint and matching tile flooring material.  Everything else should go. 

    Landlords leaving their home should consider two rules of thumb.  First, is this the way they would like to find the home if they were moving in?  If the answer is an honest yes, then they have probably done a good job. If they would not accept the condition of the home and the leftover “stuff,” they should consider removing the questionable items.  The second rule of thumb is to imagine selling the home rather than renting it.  If you would reasonably leave stuff behind and it would generally be appreciated, the go ahead and do it.  Keep in mind, the ratty old couch that your dog wouldn’t sleep on is probably not the exception to the rule.

    * * * * *
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 05/13/2013

    What To Do When Your Landlord Doesn't Fix The Air Conditioner


    The air conditioning goes out and it’s starting to get hot. This is a common scenario that hundreds of tenants and Mesa property management companies will face this summer. In nearly all cases, the property management company will be responsive and address the cooling issue immediately. But what is a tenant to do if the temperature keeps rising and the landlord is unresponsive?  

    Communicate

    Communicate with the landlord about the urgency of the issue. Keep in mind that calling every hour after the landlord has said they have the repairman on their way isn’t going to get the repair done any faster. Ask for the name of the repair company, their contact information, a work order number, if available, and their estimated time of arrival. During the Arizona summers, it can take a couple of days for a repairman to arrive. This is not an unresponsive landlord; this is a market condition.

    If the landlord is, in fact, unresponsive to your physical needs, the tenant should send a written notice to the landlord. The Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act (ARLTA) states that the notice should specify the failure to repair and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than ten days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in ten days. ARS §33-1361
    I recommend using some judgment with this approach. Certainly, it is well within the rights of the tenant to send this notice, but doing so will likely cancel any goodwill between the tenant and the property management company. It is a balancing act between what you can legally do and good relationship skills.

    Take Action 

    While the tenant continues to communicate with the Mesa property management company, the tenant should also begin the necessary physical activities to address the situation. Again, our working assumption is of an unresponsive landlord.

    Address the repairs. The tenant may procure reasonable amounts of essential services during the period of the landlord’s non-compliance. Specifically, the tenant should call a licensed repairman to make reasonable repairs. Document all contacts and appointments as well as obtain an itemized invoice. The tenant may then deduct all reasonable costs from the rent. ARS §33-1364 A.1.

    Find substitute housing. Another option is for the tenant to find reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord’s noncompliance. During this time, the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of noncompliance. If the cost of substitute housing is greater than the cost of rent for the time of noncompliance, the tenant may recover the excess amount, up to twenty five percent more than the periodic rent. The tenant will want to ensure they keep costs low. If the tenant is renting a 1,300 square foot 3-bedroom, 2-bath home for $1,000 per month, they will likely not be awarded excess costs if they choose to stay at the Ritz-Carlton, since the La Quinta will do. ARS §33-1364 A.3.

    Most Mesa property management companies will be very responsive to repair requests, particularly high priority issues like air conditioning in the summer. Knowing what to do in the event of an unresponsive landlord will help a tenant protect their rights.

    * * * * *
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 05/08/2013

    The Rental Application Process

    It seems that looking at rental applications from different Mesa property management companies is kind of like looking at snowflakes. Each one is unique with no two alike. It can be a frustrating process both as an applicant or as the showing real estate agent. Here are the basic elements of applying for a lease.

    Application

    Completing the Mesa property management company’s form is your first step. While there is no standardized form, the information requested is generally the same.  For example, our application form is completed online.  All applications request the following information:
    • Personally identifying information
    • Residential history
    • Work history
    • Financial information
    • Background information
    Most property management companies in Mesa will also require some form of identification, such as a clear copy of a driver’s license and/or social security card. Copies of recent pay statements are pretty standard, too. A rental application is not considered received until every required item is received from all applicants, including the application fee. All prospective tenants who are the age of 18 or older must complete an application.

    Application Fee

    Property management companies in Mesa will charge an application fee for each rental applicant. Fees range from $35 to as much as $75 per applicant. The fees cover the expense and time of processing an application, including
    • Credit check
    • Residential history/eviction check
    • Criminal history check
    • Sexual offender check
    • Verification of social security number
    • Employment check
    In some cases, the Mesa property management company will also require the applicant to submit earnest money with application fee. Much like earnest money for a residential purchase, the purpose of these funds are to bond a financial commitment from the applicant in anticipation of an acceptance. In other words, the property management company doesn’t want to go through the application process, then have the applicant walk away after they are accepted.

    Decision to Lease

    The rental application process can take anywhere from one to three business days. Once the research has concluded the property management company will then contact the owner to review the applicant information. The landlord will make the final decision whether or not to rent to the applicant.

    The final decision will be one of three answers:
    • Acceptance - The applicant is accepted and offered the opportunity to sign the lease agreement.
    • Conditional acceptance - The applicant is deemed to be a higher risk tenant, such as high income, but poor credit score or misdemeanor criminal record. The opportunity to sign the lease is offered under the condition of a higher security deposit (up to one and a half times the monthly lease amount).
    • Rejection - The applicant does not meet one or more of the established criteria.

    Signing the Lease

    Property management companies in Mesa seem to have two schools of thought on when to sign the lease. Property management companies who collect up-front earnest funds may delay signing the lease with the tenant until a few days prior to the occupancy. Other property management companies in Mesa, including Casteel Real Estate Professionals, don’t collect earnest money, but require the applicant to sign the lease within one business day of acceptance. All deposits are then due at the time of signing.

    As you can see there is no industry-standard process, but the activities of each property management company are generally the same. If you are thinking of applying for a lease, be sure to review the application process online at the property management company’s website. If it’s not clearly posted, give them a call before submitting your application or any funds. You want to know how they conduct business before you start working with them.

    * * * * *
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 05/06/2013

    What Is an On-time Payment?


    Getting the rent check to the landlord or property manager is one of the biggest challenges some tenants face.  Generally, the issues fall into one of three categories:  Forgetting to make the payment in timely manner, sending/delivering the payment late, or lack of sufficient funds.  It may seem to mince words, but each category is a little different with differing solutions.

    First, it is important to understand what an on-time payment is.  Most rental agreements require the tenant to deliver the rent to the landlord or their agent (property management company) by the first of each month.  This deadline is independent of whether the date falls on a weekend, holiday, or birthday.  Rental contracts differ in what is a late payment with some late on the following day, others offering a grace period of three to five days before the landlord imposes a late fee.  Regardless, the due date for rent is the first of the month.

    The first reason tenants are late with payment is they forgot.  It happens, but it can be costly, especially since property management companies, such as ours in Mesa and Gilbert, report the timing of payments to credit agencies to build tenant credit files.  Tenants can correct tardy rents by setting an alarm on their calendar, or more efficiently, establish a scheduled automatic electronic payment, which Casteel Real Estate Professionals offers.  Such payments automatically withdraw the designated amount of funds from a checking or savings account and automatically send it to the property manager, where they account for it in a timely manner.

    The second reason for late payments is logistics.  Remember, rents are due to the landlord or property management company on the due date.  If the tenant is mailing the check, he or she needs to be sure to give plenty of time for the post office to deliver it.  The other logistical issue occurs when the tenant intends to deliver the check to the property management company on the due date.  This practice is perfectly acceptable provided the tenant delivers the rent during normal business hours.  For security purposes, many management companies do not have a rent drop box, so an attempted delivery after business hours is unfruitful.  A tenant should give him or herself ample time, whether mailing or hand-delivering the rent.

    The third reason for late payments is insufficient funds.  This most often occurs when the tenant writes a personal check, but when the landlord deposits the check and funds requested from the tenant’s account, there is not enough to cover the withdrawal.  The result is a bounced check, also called non-sufficient funds, or NSF.  Because of the NSF, the landlord does not receive the funds; therefore, the rent is late.  This issue can be particularly insidious, as many days have expired before the bank identifies the NSF and notifies the landlord.  The result is not only a charge for the NSF, but also an accumulation of late fees until the tenant delivers good (certified) funds to cover the entire rent plus NSF fees and late fees.

    Tenants paying rent on time is important to their credit file as well as rental history.  Knowing the different obstacles as well as the ways to overcome those obstacles enables tenants to meet their contractual requirements. 
    ____________________________
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 04/25/2013

    The Importance of Renters Insurance

    Nearly every rental agreement has a statement requiring the tenant to obtain renters insurance. What exactly is renters insurance and why is it important?

    A landlord typically has a homeowner’s insurance policy for their property.  This policy covers the physical building and a minimum amount of liability, but not the contents of the home.  That is where renters insurance becomes important.  Renters insurance covers the personal property—your stuff—in the event of loss.  Whether it is your X-Box 360, furniture, or books, most renters policies will cover damage or loss.  You can imagine the cost of replacing these items should a catastrophic event, such as fire or flood. 

    The good news is that renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and easily obtained.  Just give your favorite insurance company a call and they will get you quickly set up.  Most insurers recommend you inventory your personal possessions; you can check their websites for downloadable checklists, such as this one.  They also recommend taking pictures of your possessions, especially valuable and unique items.

    Keep in mind that renters insurance policies are very specific in nature and do not usually include liability if a visitor to your home slips and hurts himself or herself, computers, or identity theft.  Once you obtain your renters insurance policy, provide a copy of the declarations page to your landlord or property management company.  Doing so will show them you are in compliance with the terms of your lease agreement.
    ___________________
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 04/12/2013

    Build Credit While Renting

    I’ve often been asked by tenants if paying rent will help them to build their credit file.  The answer is the ever-vague answer of, “It depends.”

    Traditional landlords and property management companies in Mesa and Gilbert collect the rent, record the payment in their books, and that is the end of the accounting.  Should the tenant pay after the due date, the landlord reflects the late payment in their books, but with no further activity.  If the landlord has to pursue collections, as in the case of an eviction, then the collection activity is reported to the credit bureau and negatively reflects on the tenant.  The bottom line:  With traditional landlords and property management, on-time payments do not improve the credit file and delinquencies hurt the credit file.

    There is a better option.  Forward-looking property management companies, including Casteel Real Estate Professionals in Mesa and Gilbert, report all payments to participating credit bureaus, resulting in renters building their credit file based on their payment activity.  On-time payments now reflect positively and help to build credit history.  A history of continuous on-time payments may be incorporated into your credit report, which is used by credit-granting institutions, including banks, auto finance companies, and utility providers.

    Using a credit-reporting property management company benefits the tenant, particularly those who pay on time, by building their credit file and getting them out of the credit rat race.  Owners benefit, too.  They know the property management company reports tenant payment behavior to participating credit bureaus and, as a result, the tenant is more likely to pay on time.

    ___________________
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.AZRentalSource.com

  • 04/05/2013

    Property Management Security Deposits

    Imagine handing over the keys to your car to a complete stranger. Oh, you’ve got their name, some personal information written down, and a couple of bucks for a month’s worth of gas. But how would you feel handing over your car? Sometimes renting out your house can feel the same way. In order to get a little more security that the tenant isn’t going to just “drive off” with your house by damaging it, landlords and property management companies in Mesa will obtain a security deposit.

    A security deposit is a refundable fee used to offer security, or consideration, in the event of damages by the tenant, whether physical or financial. A.R.S § 33-1321 (A) states the sum total of security deposits may not exceed 1 1/2 times the monthly rent.

    Can a security deposit be greater than the 1 1/2 times maximum?
    Yes. If the tenant voluntarily offers to increase the security deposit, the landlord or property management company in Mesa may accept a greater amount, but the offer must be originated by the tenant. A tenant might offer a greater amount if they are considered risky, whether due to credit issues, criminal history, or no rental history.

    What about the other fees, such as redecoration, cleaning, or pet fees…are they included in the security deposit?
    No. As long as a fee is clearly stated as being non-refundable, it is considered a separate item from the security deposit. These items should be specified in writing.

    Upon the completion of a lease, how soon must the security deposit be returned?
    The security deposit must be returned within 14 business days following the tenant turning over the property to the landlord or property management company. The Mesa property management company shall provide the tenant with an itemized list of all deductions together with the balance of the security deposit or the amount due if the damages were greater than the security deposit.

    _______________________
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert. You can visit his website at www.azrentalsource.com

  • 04/04/2013

    Rental Properties and Tenant Expectations

    Imagine checking into a hotel after a long day of traveling. You go to the front desk, fill out some information, and hand over your hard-earned money in the form of a debit card for your room. As you are handed the electronic key to your room, your mind flashes with images of what you are expecting from the hotel and the room:

    •    A clean room
    •    Fresh linens
    •    A pleasant smell to the room
    •    Comfortable temperature
    •    Hot water in the shower

    Sounds pretty basic, huh?!

    What if you came to your room to discover:

    •    Stains on the carpet
    •    Dripping faucets
    •    Your key to the minibar does not work
    •    The Garden View room’s view is overgrown weeds and a broken statue
    •    Toiletries from the previous guest were still under the sink

    Disappointed. Maybe a bit angry that this is what you’re getting for your money?

    This scenario happens all too often in the rental property world. Owners tend to think that the home is good enough, when, in fact, it is not really up to anyone’s expectations, particularly for someone who is paying between $1,000 and $2,000 a month to live in the home.

    As homeowners, we tend to overlook some of our home’s short comings. The broken ice maker, the sliding door that doesn’t lock so we just put a piece of wood in the track, the sprinkler that sprays the window. All things that we would never accept if we were buying the property. Or renting it.

    Before renting your home to someone else, consider having someone you trust walk through with you and point out all the inadequacies of the home. If your trusted friend is being honest, the process can be brutally revealing. In the end, however, you will get your tenants off to a good start by meeting their expectations. You’ll also find that you have lower costs as your home will be better maintained.
    _____________________
    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert. You can visit his website at www.azrentalsource.com

  • 04/02/2013

    Taking Care of Your Tenants

    I couldn’t decide on the title for this. You see, it could be called, “If you make life easier and less expensive for your tenants, they will continually renew their lease and you’ll have a much lower vacancy rate giving landlords a higher rate of return on their investment,” but that seemed a bit wordy. Don’t you agree?

    With that general idea in mind, though, how does a landlord take care of their tenants?

    Quite simply, provide a comfortable house and keep tenant costs low.

    Tenants can be very cost sensitive. By creating a home environment that addresses their concerns, landlords can keep their tenants happy for many years. Since repairs are not typically a cost concern of the tenant, they will look at their utilities as their major housing expense (besides their monthly rent). So here’s a couple of ways to address their concerns:

    • Install landscaping with low water requirements. While lawns are beautiful, tenants will often cut back on watering in order to cut costs, so consider artificial grass or gravel throughout. Also, adjust watering schedules based on the season.
    • Install low-flow shower heads to reduce water use.
    • Show tenants how to set the water heater thermostat to a comfortable (and safe) temperature, and how to adjust it down when they leave on vacations.
    • Install CFLs or LED lights in the home
    • Have the air conditioning system serviced annually and use the cheap, monthly use air filters…they cause less resistance on the air handler motor.
    • Install sun screens, especially on west-facing windows.
    • Plant shade trees.
    • Put ceiling fans in all the bedrooms and the family/great room. They are much less expensive to operate than air conditioning.
    • Ensure the refrigerator, if provided, is energy efficient. Same with washing machines and dryers.
    By keeping your tenants monthly costs lower, they will see the landlord as a partner rather than an adversary. And the result will be a long-term and profitable relationship.

    ___________________

    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert. You can visit his website at www.azrentalsource.com

  • 03/29/2013

    Proof of Income When Renting


    It only makes sense that a property management company wants evidence that a prospective tenant can make their monthly rent payments. Much like tenants, property management companies don’t want any trouble with a lease, either. That’s why property management companies carefully screen their prospects with a thorough rental application process. The guidelines our Mesa property management company uses is income must be equal to or greater than three times the monthly lease amount.
    For most property management companies in Mesa, the rental application requires proof of income in one of three forms:

    Pay Statements  By providing the two most recent pay statements the Mesa property management company can see how much the applicant makes each pay period, whether the pay is fixed or variable, and whether employment is full- or part-time.

    Tax Returns  For applicants who are self-employed, providing a pay statement is not an option. A suitable substitute is a copy of the two most recent federal income tax form 1040. A Mesa property management company can then see a history of income and determine whether the applicant has sufficient income to support the lease payment.

    Bank Statements  As a Mesa property manager, bank statements are both my least and most favorite form of evidence. If an applicant is not employed but has a large sum of cash, they can provide evidence of sufficient funds in order to rent the property by showing at least three months of living expenses in the account. This affords the tenant sufficient time to find employment or other means of income.

    So why is a bank statement my least favorite form of proof of income when renting? If the Mesa property management company is asking for a bank statement, it means the applicant is not able to provide either the pay statements or IRS form 1040 to show proof of income. And that’s a red flag.

    It’s also my favorite form of evidence because the applicant is volunteering to share their spending habits with the property management company. Not only does the property manager see if the applicant has positive cash flow, they can see whether the applicant has pets (purchases at PetSmart, groomers, etc.), whether they’ve been making regular mortgage or rent payments, and if they have troubles with overdrafts. Any of these can lead to a red flag. In fact I recently reviewed an applicant’s bank statements where they had a negative cash flow over two months and they weren’t even making mortgage or rent payments. We had to decline their application. Needless to say, bank statements usually do NOT work for the benefit of the applicant.

    When applying for a lease, be sure to provide the property management company with the best evidence of income. Having all of your information together as requested will demonstrate to your Mesa property management company that you are someone to whom they’d like to rent.

    ___________________

    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert. You can visit his website at www.azrentalsource.com

  • 03/28/2013

    Preparing Your Home for Rent

    I’ve seen it all too frequently. I take a rental client into a property available for lease and there it is…the small herd of dust bunnies by the front door. After two steps inside, we notice dirty walls and a couple of light bulbs out. My client turns and shares that it’s a nice floor plan, but…

    Preparing a home for lease doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, but it should be considered an installment payment into your investment property which will generate an good return for your investment.

    1.  Renters will pay more rent for a well-kept home.
    2.  You set a higher expectation of maintenance and cleanliness from the renter by providing a clean and well-maintained home at the start
    3.  Fewer maintenance issues will occur with proper preparation, meaning lower operations expenses.

    So how do you get your home ready for rent?

    Make sure the home is in good mechanical shape. If you as an investor have recently purchased the home with the intention of renting it out, review the property inspection report and address as many of the issues that were identified. Trust me, the tenants will find the issues. Whether it’s a slipped tile, a cracked garbage disposal, or a loose faucet handle, a small issue now can cause big issues later. Take care of them. A couple hundred dollars invested up front can save thousands in damage later.

    Cosmetic improvements are what sell. There’s no doubt that the two areas in to which most novice investors put most of their rehab money is paint and flooring. I generally recommend that a rental home is freshly painted at the beginning of an investor’s ownership and maintained between each tenant. Carpets should be steam cleaned or replaced if they are old and showing wear. If you can afford to tile large areas, I recommend it. It’s easier to clean and it lasts longer. A little up-front investment can yield big returns and smaller vacancy rates.

    Clean the home. Hire a good cleaning company to take care of your home. For a few hundred dollars, you can get a sparkling-clean kitchen, all the blinds cleaned (not just dusted), and windows, too. No more crumbs in the kitchen drawers, burnt-out bulbs, and hair in the drains. That “just-cleaned” scent in the home is a big seller to prospective tenants…it’s much better than masking odors with a plug-in air freshener.

    With a well-maintained home that is clean, you set an excellent baseline with tenants for your expectations as well as knowing you are getting the most return from your investment. You’re also protecting your investment property for years to come.


    ___________________

    Alex Casteel is co-owner of Casteel Real Estate Professionals, a real estate sales and property management company providing service to the Phoenix East Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, and Scottsdale.  He holds an MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert.  You can visit his website at www.azrentalsource.com

  • 03/27/2013

    Welcome

    Casteel Real Estate Professionals specializes in marketing, leasing, and managing rental properties in the Phoenix East Valley cities of Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, Scottsdale, and the Town of Gilbert. With over two decades of experience, our team of professionals provides Arizona property owners and investors the quality of services they should expect from a property management company.

    We listened to what property owners want and we’re delivering! Take advantage of our flat-fee management options to meet your needs and improve your profitability. Our industry-leading property management and marketing technology allows us to fill your home more quickly with a quality tenant while allowing you to view your account 24 hours a day, seven days a week, track maintenance requests online, get paid electronically, and much more!

    Call or contact us today to see how we can help you maximize the profitability of your investment properties!