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How To Fix-Up Small Rental Properties For Maximum Curb Appeal And Resale Value

Your goal during the fix-up of a small residential rental property is to increase the property’s curb and resale value by:

1. Giving the property and grounds an industrial strength cleaning.
2. Applying a cosmetic facelift to the exterior of the property and grounds.
3. Applying a cosmetic facelift to the interior of each rental unit.

Seven Key Elements That Must Be Included In Your Small Rental Property Fix-Up Plan

The trick to having a quick property fix-up that’s on schedule and within budget is to be well organized. In order to do this, you must make certain to include the following seven key elements in your property fix-up plan:

1. Budget: Establish a bottom-line budget before you start the job.
2. Total job cost estimate: Estimate to within five percent how much the total fix-up is going to cost.
3. Labor: If you don’t have the knowledge, experience, and time to do a first class professional looking job, hire competent tradesmen and contractors to do it for you.
4. Job supervision: If you don’t have the knowledge and time to supervise the job yourself, hire a competent professional to do it for you.
5. Quality control: Have all of the completed work inspected to make certain that is has been done in a professional manner in accordance with acceptable construction methods and building codes.
6. Work schedule: Set a coordinated work schedule to complete the entire job.
7. Completion date: Establish a realistic completion date and hold your tradesmen and contractors to it. Put completion dates in all your contracts.

How To Avoid Being Ripped-Off By Unscrupulous Repairmen And Contractors

Here are three ways that you can avoid being ripped of by the many unscrupulous repairmen, tradesmen and contractors who make a living taking residential landlords “to-the-cleaners” on a regular basis:

1. Hire only properly licensed and insured repairmen, tradesmen and contractors.
2. Require written estimates for all jobs.
3. Require that everyone who provides labor and materials on your job sign your state’s version of a waiver and release of lien upon final payment form.

How To Hire Only Properly Licensed And Insured Repairmen And Contractors

In order to avoid being duped into hiring one of the numerous unlicensed and uninsured crooks masquerading as legitimate repairmen and contractors, you must follow these eight steps to weed out the phonies, fakes and frauds:

Step #1:
Require that all repairmen and contractors provide copies of their license or certificate of competency, occupational license, workers’ compensation insurance certificate, workers’ compensation exemption certificate for sole employees, general liability insurance certificate and automobile liability insurance certificate.

Step #2: Require that all repairmen and contractors provide four verifiable customer references.

Step #3: Contact all of the customer references provided and ask them if they would hire the repairman or contractor again.

Step #4: Conduct an online search of your state’s contractor license database to verify that the contractor has a valid license.

Step #5: Contact all of the insurers listed on the insurance certificates to verify that the policies are valid and in effect.

Step #6: Contact your local city and county building departments to check if there’s a history of complaints against the repairman or contractor.

Step #7: Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check if there's a history of complaints against the repairman or contractor.

Step #8: Log onto your state attorney general’s consumer investigations Web page to check if the repairman or contractor is under investigation.

My Small Rental Property Fix-Up Motto: Clean, Repair Or Replace As Needed
Being a parsimonious Yankee from New Hampshire, my property turnaround fix-up motto has always been clean, repair or replace as needed. In other words, first try cleaning it, and if that doesn’t do the trick, try repairing, and if that doesn’t work replace it with a pre-owned replacement from a reputable source. The following is a listing of items that must be cleaned, patched, repaired or replaced during the fix-up:

1. Walkways and parking areas. Clean, repair, patch and seal all walkways and parking areas as needed.

2. Mailboxes. Clean, repair or replace all mailboxes as needed.

3. Exterior doors. Clean, repair or replace all exterior doors, hardware and locksets as needed.

4. Windows. Clean, repair or replace window frames, glass and locks as needed.

5. Exterior lighting. Clean, repair or replace all exterior light fixtures and bulbs as needed.

6. Interior doors. Clean, repair or replace all interior doors, hardware and locksets as needed.

7. Kitchen cabinets. Clean, repair or replace all cabinet doors, hardware and countertops as needed.

8. Interior lighting. Clean, repair or replace all interior light fixtures and bulbs as needed.

9. Plumbing fixtures. Clean, repair, or replace all sinks, tubs, showers, faucets, commodes and vanities as needed.

10. Heating and cooling systems. Clean, repair or replace all heating and cooling systems as needed.

11. Floor coverings: Clean, repair or replace all carpets, floor tiles and vinyl floor coverings as needed.

12. Exterior and interior paint. Clean, prepare and paint all exterior and interior surfaces.

13. Landscaping. Prune, cut, trim and mow the property’s landscaping and lawn as needed.

14. Gutters and downspouts. Clean, repair or replace all gutters and downspouts as needed.

15. Roofs. Clean, repair or replace as needed.

Conduct Final Walk-Through Inspections Before Making The Final Payments

Lastly, prior to making any final payments to tradesmen and contractors, do a walk-through inspection of the property to determine if all work has been satisfactorily completed. In doing your walk-through, check the quality of the materials and workmanship. Make lists of all the discrepancies you find during your walk-through and give them to each applicable contractor or tradesmen to correct. In doing this, be fair and realistic, but don’t let anyone take unfair advantage of you. When making your final payments, be certain you get a release of lien form signed by each contractor or tradesmen which states that they’ve been paid in full for all labor and materials used on your property.
Thomas J. Lucier is the President and CEO of Home Equities Corp, a privately held Florida Corporation established in 1995, that specializes in the purchase, fast-turnaround and resale of small residential rental properties in the Tampa Bay Area. Tom’s new 92 page special report,  How To Find, Buy And Turnaround Small, Mismanaged Rental Properties For Maximum Profit, $29.95, is available for purchase at the FIND FORMS & PUBS

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