Mahoning Valley Real Estate Investors Association

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Don't overlook Permits 

Seeking a building permit might seem like a pain in the neck, but it’s nothing compared to what can happen if you or your contractor fail to get the right paperwork, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

For one thing, filing a permit gets your project “into the system.” That way, city inspectors can check to see if the work meets your community’s standards for safe construction.

Your bank and your insurance company aren’t going to be happy if you skip the permitting process. If one of your rental properties burns down because of a rewiring project that you didn’t report, the insurance company could reject the claim, NARI warns. Many lenders will pass on loans or refinancing for such properties, too.

Generally speaking, building permits are required for any remodel that involves a property’s footprint, electrical system or plumbing. That could include replacing the roof, knocking out a wall or adding a new deck, but probably not paint jobs or new carpeting.

Every state and every community is different, though. The smart play is for you and your contractor to speak with your local officials about the rules.

Finding the White Size

Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint to change how your properties look to prospective tenants.

Lighter colors will make smaller interiors appear to be larger, paint producer Sherwin-Williams says. Are you sprucing up a long, narrow room? Paint the longer walls a light color, and use a darker paint on the narrow ones. That dark shading will actually make those walls appear to be wider.

The same trick can apply to a building’s exterior. Using white or light paint will make a property look bigger than it really is. While dark colors might make a home appear to be smaller, the property will also seem more “substantial.”

While white is a very popular choice for rental properties, you might consider expanding your palette. The right shade of green can be very calming, while brown creates feelings of comfort and warmth. Golden yellow is also “warm” and can be useful in rooms with poor lighting.

Leaving a Warmer Welcome

A lot of landlords like to give their new tenants a welcome packet when they move in. It can be a smart way to share important information—emergency contacts, a copy of the lease and your particular policies, for example—and start the relationship on good terms.

And with a little creativity and not much money, you can upgrade your welcome basket to really make an impact.

• Depending on how big your operations are, you might consider having refrigerator magnets printed with your emergency contact information. Paper gets pitched or filed away where nobody can find it. With a magnet, you’ll deliver a constant reminder every time tenants go to the fridge.

• Include a map that shows where your new renter can find grocery stores, dry cleaners and other resources. Menus and coupons from local restaurants could be helpful, too. Depending on your budget, you might even include a small gift card.

• Thoughtful gifts don’t have to be expensive. Toilet paper, a bar of hand soap, a few drinks waiting in the fridge—those are all things that practically every renter needs, but might have forgotten during the rush of Moving Day. You can buy a lot of goodwill for just a few dollars.

Article Compliments of Community Investor Magazine

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