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Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

Online Rental Scam Using Craigslist - Never Send Money Overseas!

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

This rental scam has been going on for several years now, but it has been brought to my attention by several prospective tenants in recent weeks so it is worth covering again.  Dishonest people from overseas, mainly in African countries, are listing properties for rent on Craigslist and some other rental websites.  The rental amounts are usually far below the going rate and renters in our area and across the country are falling for this scam hook, line and sinker.  Our area is especially prone to this scam, since a lot of folks are coming in from out of town and many are willing to rent sight unseen from the pictures. 

The way the scam works is the thieves use actual properties for rent and create new online ads for the same house with more favorable terms.  Like a beautiful Virginia Beach rental home with 4 bedrooms for $1,800 a month, $1,800 security deposit and the owner will not accept pets.  The new scam ad runs for the same house will say something like the rent is $1,250, no security deposit required and pets are OK.  Sounds like a great deal aye!

Unsuspecting renters are basically duped into sending rent and security deposit by Western Union, but the person on the receiving end are not the actual owners.  Local area real estate companies have even had renters show up and ask for the keys, just to find out they were victims of a scam and their money is gone forever and now they have no home either. 

Basic Rules for Renting:

1. Any reputable Property Manager will require an application and application fee to verify who you are before renting to you.

2. Verify the Property Manager and the house are really for rent before sending in your money.  If it offer is too good to be true, it probably is.  So beware of incredible offers to rent cheap. 

​3. Google the full address of the house including the city and state too.  You should be able to find any Realtor listings for the same house. 

4. Many agents use a cell phone number, but ask for the office phone number to double check.  Call the office and asked to be transferred to the agent. 

5.  If you live out of town, ask a friend or co-worker to take a look at the house and meet with the agent to actually look inside the house.

​6. Mostly importantly never ever send your hard earned money by Western Union or any other service overseas to rent a home.  There are plenty of great local rentals in our area to deal with.

 

Hampton Roads NARPM Election Announcement

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

It was announced to membership meeting today that I was elected Vice President of the Hampton Roads chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) for 2010.

You can find out more about NARPM on their website at  www.NARPM.org

Internet Rental Scam Alert

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The National Association of Residential Propety Manager Governmental Affairs Committee wants to warn you about an internet rental scam that has been making its way around the country. Scammers are copying information, photos and text, from legitimate online rental ads and then posting that information on Craig’s List. It is listed with a significantly reduced rent and the property manager’s contact information has been replaced by the scammer’s. In some ads the text is full of misspelled words and bad grammar but not always. This is because many of the scammers are operating outside the country, typically Nigeria, but many cases have also involved local scammers who are able to meet potential tenants in person. With international scams, the potential tenants are usually required to send the deposit and first month’s rent through Western Union and are promised that the keys will then be over-nighted to them. Local scammers are often able to copy a key or simply break into a vacant property and replace the door lock with their own so they can actually provide the new tenant with a legitimate key. In one situation an unsuspecting tenant was actually able to completely move into an apartment without the knowledge of the legitimate property manager. The property manager was only alerted to the problem when the tenant called the office to request that the “For Rent” sign be removed from their front yard.

These scammers are often very sophisticated and can play the part of a legitimate property manager well enough to fool potential renters. Make sure you are checking your vacant properties and Craig’s List on a regular basis. If you find an unauthorized ad flag it so that others will know that it may be fraudulent and contact Craig’s List to request that they remove it from their website. Some property managers have even posted an additional listing with the same name but included, “THIS IS A SCAM” or similar language at the end of the post to help warn people. This way it will come up in the listing right after the fraudulent post and give the property manager an opportunity to provide the correct information.

The FBI has received countless complaints about this and other rental scams but they explained that this type of crime is low on their list of investigative priorities. If one of your properties gets caught in this scam, we recommend you visit www.IC3.gov and report the crime. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). IC3's mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime. If you encounter a potential tenant who has been scammed and made the mistake of providing sensitive personal information such as their social security number, it is highly recommended that they go ahead and put a freeze on their credit.

 

17 Things Owners Need To Do To Get Their Home Ready For Property Management

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

A common question Virginia Beach area homeowners ask is what do they need to do to get ready for property management.  Here is a list of things that should be helpful to most owners. The important thing is to create a baseline to work from, so when your tenant leaves they know what is to be expected of them.  

1. Whole house, attic, garage & shed clean and free of all personal property. Anything left behind may not be there when you return.

2. All doors, window facings and baseboards cleaned and touched up as needed.

3. Blinds and ceiling fans clean and in good working order.

4. Ensure all light bulbs, switches and fixtures are in good working order.

5. All appliances, vents & filters clean and in good working order. 

6. Kitchen & Baths need to sparkle. Sinks and tubs have to have working stoppers and properly caulked where needed.

7. Have carpets professionally cleaned.

8. Have dryer vent, fireplace & chimney professionally inspected and cleaned.

9. Install "heavy duty" door stops behind each door.

10. Heating & A/C system serviced and new filter(s) installed.

11. Provide current code and instructions for security system.

12. Each floor is required to have working smoke detector with fresh batteries.  Carbon monoxide detector (gas homes) and halon fire extinguishers recommended, but not required by Virginia law.

13. Garage door opener & remote(s) need to be in good working order and have fresh batteries. Provide current code and instructions for using exterior key pad.

14. Have grass freshly cut, all flower beds clean & weeded and install fresh mulch. Provide name & number of who will cut grass until rented if necessary.

15. Provide 4 keys for each unique lock. If more than 2 unique locks, have locksmith re-key locks to one matching key. Please verify all keys work, including new keys!

16. Repair wall holes and touch-up and/or paint where needed.

17. Provide good notes and instructions for unique things about your home that can help the tenant and your property manager in the future.

I hope you found this list of items helpful.  If you have any questions or need a referral to hire someone to help perform any of these tasks to prepare your home for property management, please feel free to give me a call.  Jorge Gonzalez, RE/MAX Allegiance 757-287-3400.

 

 

Beautiful 2100 sqft contemporary home on a cul-de-sac for $1,500

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

For Rent $1,500, 2100 sqft in Virginia Beach home

2024 Twinflower Ct

More Info On Heat Pumps - Part II

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

After my last blog post on using heat pumps in the Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads area, I got more questions and comments about them.  With the temps dropping this week, I thought I better answer them now.  Please note I am not a HVAC system technician, but I have been managing rental properties since 1993, so I have learned a few things over the years.  In addition, I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express too....

Q. What's that whooshing sound?  Did my heat pump just blow up?

A: I get this call every winter.  Actually, that sound is the heat pump going through the defrost cycle.  If you are actually looking at the unit when it happens, you will also see steam rushing out of the unit too.  Don't be embarrassed, it can be kinda scary if you never seen it happen before.

 

Q: The emergency light on the thermostat came on, is something wrong?

A: Heat pumps work great in our area most of the year.  However, they are not very efficient when the temp drop below 32 degrees.  Heat pumps extract the heat out of the air in the winter.  When it is below freezing outside, this gets to be a challenging job for your system.  To help make it feel comfortable in the house, there are electric heat strips inside the air handler that are used to supplement the heat.  When these heat strips are on the emergency heat light comes on. 

You will also see the light come on if you increase the temperature on the heat more than 2 degrees at a time.  So if it is 65 degrees and you bump it up to 70, the emergency heat will come on until you reach 70. 

The emergency heat does use more electricity, so you do not want to use it all the time.  During extremely cold periods over several days, it could be coming on and off a lot.  Your really cannot do anything about this and you will likely see a higher electric bill next month. 

It is best to set the temperature to the level you want it and leave it set.  Heat pumps are not designed to be turned up and down all the time.  Programmable thermostats change the temp slowly and is really the only efficient way to do it.

 

Q: There is an ice build up around the coils on the outside heat pump unit . Is something wrong?

A: Yes, you may have a leak in the system.  Best to turn off the system and call for service.  Continuing to run the system could damage the compressor, so turn it off and wait for the HVAC company.


Q: My heat pump is running poorly.  What can I do to resolve it?

A:  With rental properties, I have found that often the air filter has not been changed in a long time.  An extremely dirty air filter will suffocate the system.  Heat pumps need to breathe too, so a dirty filter would be like holding a pillow over your face. Please change your air filter every 30 days.

If you do not change your filters regularly, you may need to have the system professionally cleaned.  The coils in the air handler get very dirt over time and your system will have to work harder to heat or cool your house and will cost you more on your electric bill.  Having your system cleaned regularly is good preventive maintenance too and will extend the life of your system.


Q: My heat pump stopped working.  What do I do? 

A: Before calling for service, try to reset the system yourself.  Turn off the system at the thermostat.  Then turn the breaker off in the circuit breaker panel box.  Now wait about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes pass go back to the panel box, turn the breaker back on and then go back to the thermostat and turn the heat (or A/C) on again too.  Sometimes heat pumps do not start up immediately, so it may 5-10 minutes.

If you do not have heat (or A/C) within 30 minutes, you will need service.  There are several things it could be, so you will need a qualified HVAC technician to evaluate the system.  Best to turn the system off until help arrives.  You may be able to use the emergency heat if necessary.

NOTE: Some systems like a Rheem, may have a reset switch on the unit itself.  If you have one, you should look for it first to reset it yourself.  I am aware of HVAC companies come out, push the switch and charge you $129. 


Q:  I have an old system and they HVAC guy said it would cost $6,000 to replace the entire system. Is this correct? 

A: I am afraid he may be right.  A couple of years ago the Gov't mandated that all new heat pumps be 13 SEER or better.  A heat pump system has the outside unit and an inside air handler unit.  If either unit goes bad, it may not be able to be matched with a new unit.  Therefore, you will have to replace both units.  Depending on the size of the units and your house, it could cost anywhere between $5,000 to $8,000 for a standard system.  High efficiency units (14 to 19 SEER) can be very expensive. 


Please read my other Blog post on Heat Pumps for a related issue:


If you need service on your HVAC system, please contact me for a referral.  I know a couple of honest companies that I have been dealing with for over a decade. 

RE/MAX #1 Real Estate Franchise

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RE/MAX is the United State’s # 1 real estate franchise and the nation’s # 44 franchise overall - according to Entrepreneur magazine’s 30th Annual Franchise 500 survey.

The survey appears on the magazine’s Web site and in its January 2009 issue.

Subway bested McDonald’s to capture the top position overall. Behind # 2 McDonald’s came Liberty Tax Service at # 3.

Among real estate franchises, RE/MAX ranks No. 1 for the ninth time in the past nine years. The closest competitor - Keller Williams - came in at a distant # 71.

RE/MAX ranks # 10 overall in the Low-Cost Franchises category. It finished # 1 last year.

Additionally, RE/MAX tops all real estate competitors at # 38 on the Global Franchises list.

RE/MAX has a long, successful history in the survey. It ranked # 10 overall a year ago, # 11 in 2007, # 8 in 2006, and # 10 in 2005.

All companies in the rankings are judged by the same criteria, the most important being financial strength and stability, size and growth rate. Also considered: number of years in business, length of time franchising, start-up costs, litigation, percentage of terminations and financing options.

The factors are plugged into a Franchise 500 formula, with each eligible company receiving a cumulative score.

Displaying blog entries 1-7 of 7

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Jorge Gonzalez primarily provides Real Estate and Property Management services for rental properties for the following areas of Hampton Roads:

Virginia Beach Real Estate For Sale and Virginia Beach Property Manager (Largest City In Hampton Roads)
Chesapeake Real Estate For Sale and Chesapeake Property Manager
Norfolk Real Estate For Sale
Suffolk Real Estate For Sale