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Property Management Services – A Real Estate Investor’s Best Friend

Do you own an investment property that you’re renting out, and you’re currently handling all of the chores of being a landlord yourself?Are you thinking about investing in rental properties, but you’re not sure if you’re up for the task of being a landlord?If you answered yes to either of those questions, whether you are holding onto or considering investing in a single-family rental (SFR), duplex, or triplex, you should think about engaging a professional property management firm to take the work off your shoulders.Let’s take a look at what property management is, what a professional management company handles, and how to decide not only if it’s time to hire one but also how to hire the right property management firm.What is Property Management?Let’s start off with getting an understanding of what a property management firm does and doesn’t do. There are several critical tasks a property manager can help you with.Setting the right rental rate: You can always ballpark this by looking through the classifieds, but a good property management company actually conducts thorough market studies to set a rental price for your property. This makes sure you have a great balance between maximizing your monthly income and keeping a low vacancy rate.Collecting the rent: One of the most difficult aspects of being a landlord is collecting the rent. Property management firms have efficient, tried-and-true systems that will do a great job of collecting the rent and maintaining on-time payments.Marketing and advertising your rental unit: When vacancies occur, you want the rental unit occupied as quickly as possible. A professional property management firm has experience that helps it market your property in just the rate way to make sure someone moves in quickly.Finding and managing tenants: The property management firm will take the work out of finding and managing tenants for you. This means screening new tenants for criminal and credit checks, collecting references, and getting the lease signed. Once the home is occupied, handling routine and emergency maintenance and inspections are part of what a professional management company will do for you.Managing relationships with contractors and other vendors: Do you have deep-seated relationships with all of the maintenance workers, tradesmen, contractors, suppliers, and vendors needed to properly manage your rental? Probably not. But a property management firm does and can get you the best work for the best price, while handling the burden of overseeing necessary maintenance projects for you.Keeping you in compliance with the laws Housing regulations and property laws are complicated and confusing when you’re renting and maintaining your rental property. These can include local, state, and federal regulations, along with fair housing regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act. A property manager can keep you out of hot water by keeping your property up-to-date and in compliance with all of these regulations.Allowing you to invest from afar: If you’ve moved to a place where investing in rental units don’t make sense, you might think that investing in SFRs or other rental properties isn’t possible. With a good property management company by your side, you won’t be so limited in your investment opportunities.I only have one property; so why do I need a property manager?If just reading through all of the tasks that a property manager can handle for you isn’t convincing enough, consider this: do you want to be able to go on vacation without interruption? Do you really enjoy phone calls about backed up plumbing at 3:30 in the morning?Chances are, you want the freedom to leave town for vacation or just have uninterrupted time with family for the holidays. You don’t relish the task of dealing with emergency maintenance chores in the middle of the night, and you probably dread the thought of trying to find a good tenant when your existing ones move out.Even if you only have a single investment property that you’re renting out, you can benefit strongly from hiring a property management service. They have decades of experience that you’d be hard-pressed to match yourself, and can ensure your property is maintained impeccably while still maximizing your profit.Okay, I’m convinced, but how do I know who to hire?The best way to find out about quality management companies is based on the experience of others. If you are local to your rental property, attend your regional real estate investment association meetings to get recommendations from other landlords.You want to make sure you find out how many units the company is managing, and how many employees they have doing the work. A trained employee with the right tools and proven processes can successfully manage between 30 and 40 units, as long as they’re not also playing accountant.When you’re interviewing different qualified property management firms, here are the questions you should get answers to:

What is the cost? Generally, the monthly fee for property management is between eight and twelve percent, plus expenses. Remember you get what you pay for, so it is important to balance the cost and services.

How well do they communicate? You want someone who uses email, but is still responsive to the telephone. If you don’t get a response in a timely fashion, it’s time to walk somewhere else.

How easily can I terminate the agreement? If things work out, what will it take to terminate your agreement? Make sure you know this up front, along with any penalties.

How experienced are they with Section 8? This can be supremely important, since Section 8 housing and tenants are great income opportunities. Make sure they have adequate experience with such properties.
If you do your research, you can readily find a reputable firm to handle your rental investments for you. This will free you up to enjoy the fruits of your investment without as much of the hassle.

The Intellectual Property Audit – Finding What You Have (Part V of V)

An Overview of How an Intellectual Property Audit Works
The first step in performing an intellectual property audit is to develop a plan for the audit. An audit committee (usually consisting of an intellectual property attorney, a representative from management, marketing, and technology or research and development) defines the areas of inquiry and establishes the time schedule which the audit will follow. They outline the responsibilities of each member of the audit team. They then define the preliminary documents for review and decide which members of the organization — present and past — to interview.The attorney develops an intellectual property database which contains, at a minimum, “…owner of the intellectual property asset, class of asset, the inventors or authors, when the asset was created or acquired, the asset’s status (e.g., pending or issued patent, registered copyright, trademarks, domain names), on-going maintenance issues (e.g., payment of maintenance fees for patents, collection or payment of licensing fees), and the expiration or renewal date of the asset.” This database enables the organization to determine exactly what its intellectual property assets are and also to determine the status of each asset.After the database has been developed, the attorney and the audit committee within the organization analyze the intellectual property and determine what action to take as to each piece of intellectual property. The committee and the attorney also identify mechanisms that the organization should use to identify and protect each new piece of intellectual property that the organization develops or otherwise acquires.The audit team then documents the audit results and presents them to the organization, with recommendations as to where, if at all, intellectual property protection is inappropriately thin and where, if at all, protection can be reduced.Benefits of an Intellectual Property Audit
An intellectual property audit benefits intellectual property buyers, owners and investors.Intellectual Property Owners
Intellectual property owners benefit from an intellectual property audit when they depend on that property as a component of the organization’s value (the greater the dependency, the greater the value of the intellectual property audit), when they license the property out, when there is a question that may involve litigation over the property, when they sell their stock or corporate assets, or when they engage in commerce involving the property.Intellectual Property Buyers
If an intellectual property buyer is acquiring the stock or assets of a company, she should insist that an intellectual property audit be performed to determine the scope and level of protection in place and needed to make the investment worthwhile. This buyer should look at any licensing or distribution rights that are already in place in the company, and those that the company may be contemplating putting in place. The buyer is interested in determining what protections are available for the property, whether the property is adequately protected against any potential third-party claims to ownership (such as if it was developed by consultants, whether the consultant has properly assigned the property to the organization), whether the property is security guaranteeing a debt, whether needed federal and state registrations are in place and properly maintained, and, if any part was licensed or purchased from third parties, what rights to the third-party intellectual property the organization has purchased.An intellectual property buyer may also be interested in simply acquiring rights to the intellectual property itself, without acquiring any part of the stock or assets of the organization that developed it. This buyer should look at what licenses exist already, whether trade secrets are available to increase the value of the property, whether any third party has any rights in the intellectual property that comprises any part of the property of interest, and, if so, what rights does the organization own, whether the property is in any way related to a government-sponsored activity.Intellectual Property Investors
An intellectual property investor should demand an intellectual property audit when they consider funding a start-up company or financing an existing business. Often, the intellectual property is the sole asset of a start-up company, and it often forms a major part of the value of an existing company. Due diligence requires that the investor ensure that the property is fully protected. Investors also would find the information gleaned through an audit to be useful in a debtor/creditor situation where the investor accepts an intangible asset as security on a loan.Conclusion
The intellectual property audit is a necessary and important management tool in today’s knowledge economy. Indeed, it is the only way to assess the true value of an organization, and it is the only way for an organization to maintain and grow its intangible assets. Gone are the days when the corporation was valued at the price of its real and personal property. Today, managers and investors need to have a good understanding of the intangible side of the business as well as the tangible side. The intellectual property audit is the way for them to get a grip on reality.This article was originally written for The Germeshausen Center Newsletter and published in the Winter 2003 edition. It was later expanded into its present form and appeared in Les Nouvelles, Vol. 38 No. 4 (December 2003) at page 193. That article has been updated for this presentation.Copyright 2003, 2007, Nancy Baum Delain. All rights reserved.

How To Buy Property With Super Funds – Tips To Go The SMSF Route

The long term economic crises that have eaten away at people’s savings have made real estate seem much more valuable than before as a tool for planning for a comfortable retirement. As a matter of fact, an increasing number of people are investing in property through their superannuation funds. It hasn’t always been easy to invest in property using accumulated superannuation money since the costs associated were very high. However, there have been many changes in laws that simplify the process of how to buy property with super funds.Most people prefer to use an SMSF (self managed super fund) to invest in property and plan for their retirement years since this method allows them a simple way to• Save on income tax
• Eliminate paying capital gains tax in the case of an investment propertyMany small business owners also use this investment method to get the maximum benefit from owning property. They use their superannuation fund to buy commercial property to run their business from and then rent the property to the business, thereby reducing their operating costs. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the rental rates should be in keeping with existing rates in the market at that the time.Important point to note: When a residential property is purchased with an SMSF, the trustees or any other member of the fund is not permitted to live in the property. This also applies to properties which have been purchased as holiday homes. There are strict penalties for this.Since the rules concerning superannuation now allow people to borrow funds inside of an SMSF, increasing numbers of people buy property using this route. Keep in mind the following information regarding SMSFs:- It is possible to buy not just residential and commercial properties using an SMSF but also industrial properties. One can also buy either listed or unlisted property using this route.- This is a good way to buy property without having to deplete one’s bank account or reduce ones disposable income. Banks are generally willing to put up 80% of the value of a residential property. When it comes to commercial property, they will lend a maximum of 70%.- The money will be borrowed via a Bare Trust which will keep the legal title to the property. Even so, the beneficial ownership of the property in question lies with the SMSF. This means that any profits such as capital gains and rental income will accrue to the SMSF.- The potential benefits of investing through this route are very high but the risks are also very great since the lender can take control of the property in case the SMSF is unable to pay back the loan for any reason. Therefore, it is very important to take measures to protect the investment. For instance, the buyer should take out an insurance policy to be able to avoid forcible sale of the property.- The members and trustees of the SMSF are one and the same. In other words, the members are expected to run the fund to their own advantage.- There are many laws that govern the running of these funds and compliance with them is absolutely necessary as per the law.- Certain concessions in stamp duty are available to those people buying property using this route. However, the exact amount of concession varies according to the state in which the fund is formed. It is necessary to study this factor before making a final decision on investing in property.Even though many people are eager to buy investment property in superannuation, they do not realize until later on that the costs of making mistakes can be quite severe. Also, the many regulations and rules that govern these transactions can be quite confusing. Therefore, it is always a good idea to get professional help, especially when buying overseas property in superannuation because of the additional risk factors.If you wish to find out how to buy property with super funds then the following information will be of great use to you:1. Start by establishing an SMSF, preferably by getting help from an experienced and qualified financial consultant. There is a lot of paperwork that generally needs to be done and the consultant will do all the work necessary to set up bank accounts, trust deeds etc. A special bare trust known as a Custodian or Property Trust will have to be established.2. Once your SMSF is in place, you need to transfer your superannuation funds into it. You can start such a fund singly or with others. For instance, you might decide to pool your superannuation funds with those of your spouse in order to buy a property jointly.3. You should then apply to a bank of your choice to get a loan pre-approval based upon the total money you are willing to spend on the investment. The bank will go through its regular process for loan approval and will require certain documents in order to check whether they are in order.4. You can start searching for a suitable property once you have a loan approval in hand. You have to follow normal processes for selecting the property and closing the deal.5. The legal title to the property in question will be mortgaged to the lender who also earns interest as per the loan agreement.6. As the manager of a superannuation fund, you need to be absolutely scrupulous in keeping the accounts of the funds separate from your personal finances. One of the legal requirements of managing such a fund is that you have to administer it in the right way. For instance, you are required to maintain all necessary records and even get the fund audited annually.Since there are many rules and regulations that govern the use of SMSFs to buy property and there are many penalties for non-compliance; even small deviations from the rule are punished; it is best to make such an investment only after getting professional help. If used properly, this investment route can certainly result in good returns.