Archive Monthly Archives: March 2011

When is an Austin Rent Payment Considered “On Time”

One of the most misunderstood agreements that tenants have with Austin Property Managers and Landlords is when rent is actually due. It’s clearly spelled out in the written lease agreement, but confusion exists nonetheless. Most lease agreements require rent to be paid on or before the first of each month. All Crossland Property Management leases have a due date of the 1st, no exceptions. Many of my tenants, however, consider the “due date” to be the last day of the grace period, which is the 3rd for us. This is not correct and can lead to undesirable outcomes for tenants.

Most Texas leases include a provision that states the day upon which late fees begin to accrue for unpaid rent. The period of days after the 1st, but before the “late fee date”, is called the “grace period”. In fact, a 1-day grace period is mandated by Texas law, meaning the first day that a Texas landlord can lawfully charge a late fee is the 3rd of the month (assuming the lease states a due date of the 1st, with the 2nd being the 1-day grace period).

At Crossland Property Management, we have a 2-day grace period (giving an extra grace period day), meaning rent can be paid late on the 2nd or 3rd without a late fee, and the late fee starts on the 4th. But this does not make the 3rd the “due date” for rent, as so many tenants seem to assume. It works like this:

Rent Paid on or before the 1st – This is an “on time” rent payment. You are performing as agreed in the lease. You are an A+ rent payer.

Rent Paid on the 2nd or 3rd –  This is a “late payment” for which no late fee is charged, because of the 2-day grace period. You are a B- rent payer.

Rent paid on or after the 4th –  This is a late payment for which a late fee is incurred. You are a D rent payer. If I have to send an eviction notice before you pay, you earned an F. This will cost you not only in late fees, but in other ways explained below.

Tenants often mentally convert the due date to the 3rd instead of the 1st. In fact, in any given month, about one third of our rent payments are received late ON the 3rd. It’s human nature. We think in terms of consequences. A late payment each month on the 3rd seems to have have no consequences to most tenants, and many in fact consider it to be “on time”. But in fact is not correct.

You may think, “ok, I understand what you’re saying Steve, but there’s still no downside to paying on the 3rd, so I’ll just keep doing that”. This is where most tenants don’t know what you don’t know. There are in fact financial consequences to paying late each month, even within the grace period. Mainly, I don’t offer the same renewal rates to tenants who consistently pay late as I do to tenants who consistently pay on time. I also don’t provide as good a rental refernce for late payors as I do for those who pay on time.

Here’s how it works for lease renewals.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
5 years ago

Texas BBQ and Wussy Austin Bikers

I have clean hands sticker

My 14 year old daughter and I like to catch lunch at Rudy’s BBQ on Sundays after her volleyball practice. I love everything about Rudy’s, especially having one two minutes from the house.

Yesterday was a typical Sunday at Rudy’s on 360. Great cross section of Austinites, young and old and of all stripes, including a table of bikers. More on that in a minute.

One of the cool features of Rudy’s is the really nifty hand washing machine. Think of it as a hand jacuzzi. You stand before this contraption which has two cylinders into which you put your hands. Upon doing so, a swirling cascade of warm water starts spraying on your hands, for about 30 seconds, then stops automatically. You then remove your reinvigorated wet paws, shake them dry (or use a paper towel if you have manners) and then place one of the provided “I Have Clean Hands” stickers on your shirt. Sort of like the “I Voted” stickers you get after voting, but for some reason the “Clean Hands” sticker provides a greater sense of accomplishment.

So it was this Sunday, that my daughter and I treated our sticky BBQ stained hands to the epidermal delight. I went first, then she, and as we stood there, a biker in full dress stepped up behind us. What happened next ought to be illegal in a Texas BBQ Joint.

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Posted by Steve
5 years ago

Austin House Hunting Gets Boost from Daylight Savings

Austin House Hunting Gets Boost from Daylight Savings

If you’re currently searching for a home in Austin – not online but physically touring homes with an Austin Realtor – you know that one of your biggest limitations is available daylight time. That’s about to change over Spring Break as we move to daylight saving.

Starting in Early November each year, sunset happens before 6PM. That makes looking at homes on weekdays after work nearly impossible. Buyers don’t like looking at homes in the dark. Tonight, sunset will be around 6:30PM but, starting tomorrow, you’ll have an extra hour of daylight to view homes with sunset after 7:30PM. By mid April, sunset moves to around 8PM and by mid-summer you have until 8:30PM.

We all know the real estate market in Austin is better in the Spring and Summer. The accepted reason is that Spring/Summer is a more convenient time for making moves, especially for families with children in school. But I also think there are secondary factors.

One of the main secondary factors is the notion of “daylight shopping hours”. It’s just easier to buy a house when you have more daylight to work with. Also, I think buyers actually feel more like buying in warmer weather with longer days.

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Posted by Steve
5 years ago

Austin Rental Values vs. Zillow Zestimates

Zillow now offers “Zestimates” for rental properties in Austin. Want to see how much a home might rent for? Just look it up on Zillow the same way you would the value of a home in Austin. Let’s see how accurate it is.

I took a look at some actual homes I manage, from all areas of Austin, and compared the actual rented value to the Rent Zestimates for Austin.

Area Zillow Actual Difference
SW Austin 78736 $1,260.00 $1,295.00 -2.70%
South Austin 78745 $1,276.00 $1,195.00 6.78%
South Austin 78748 $1,394.00 $1,395.00 -0.07%
SE Austin 78741 $1,195.00 $995.00 20.10%
Central Austin 78704 $1,539.00 $1,795.00 -14.26%
Central Austin 78705 $1,332.00 $1,650.00 -19.27%
Central Austin 78756 $1,319.00 $1,595.00 -17.30%
NW Austin 78759 $2,429.00 $2,495.00 -2.65%
NW Austin 78729 $1,417.00 $1,395.00 1.58%
Cedar Park 78613 $1,252.00 $1,300.00 -3.69%

 

Looks like Zillow Rental “Zestimates” either get it pretty close or way off. Of the 10 homes reviewed, 4 are incorrect by 14% or more with three of the four underestimating the rent, and one over estimating by 20%.

Five out of the remaining six were within a margin of error less than 5%. Not bad, actually. These were mostly underestimated as well.

So how do you know “for sure” the rental market value for a house in Austin? There are some simple rules of thumb.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
5 years ago

Austin Craigslist – A Real Estate Advertising Sewer

Real estate ads on Craigslist

We don’t post ads on Craigslist. I’m not sure why any informed buyer, renter or seller would use Craigslist in Austin anymore, as it’s become a sewer of real estate scams and spammy garbage ads. If that’s not bad enough, Craigslist real estate ads in Austin represent the #1 subject of Ethics Complaints at the Austin Board of Realtors, as agents ignorant of advertising rules and the code of ethics try to market other agents’ listings. In short, the real estate section of Austin Craigslist has become a scourge and a menace to the Austin community.

Before anyone emails me or posts a comment about how great Craigslist is in your community, don’t bother. I know it works well in some communities. And I’m sure there are anecdotal instances of good outcomes and success stories in Austin. But it’s worthless as far as I’m concerned.

A scammer today posted our listing for 6010 Long Champ on Craigslist For Rent at $700/mo. This is a $2,400/mo. home in Westlake, for which the $700 price should have been red flag, yet at least 1 person we know of believed the ad. Later they forwarded the correspondence to us after concluding it was a scam.

Tenant Prospect Responding to Scam Ad (personal info altered/removed as indicated:

Good morning,

My husband and I are interested in seeing this home. The price & location are perfect for us –

Please contact us anytime at {contact info}

The scammer replied with the following (unaltered except is was all blue bold text):

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Posted by Steve
5 years ago