Category Archives: Colorado Springs Property Management

Break Lease Fee Purchase Program and Common Real Estate Questions

Considering a home purchase in can be daunting and tricky. With questions like ‘Is this a good time to buy? Are interest rates too high at the moment? Do I have enough saved up to even consider purchasing? Where do I even start?’ As experienced real estate agents and property managers, we understand the challenges our field can present, and the confusion that surrounding a constantly changing market. We’ve seen some pretty significant changes in the last year, so those hurdles that appeared too large to overcome in the past- from bidding wars to cash offers impossible to compete against- appear to be overall a thing of the past- at least for now.

We wanted to take a moment and discuss some of the biggest questions we get from tenants looking to transition from renters to homeowners:

1. Are we still in a seller’s market?

It’s a difficult question to answer, and can vary on who you ask. One thing is for certain- we’re closer to a balanced market than we have been in almost 10 years. The last six months have clearly indicated a correction in the market nationwide. After the meteoric rise in house prices since recovering from the last recession, home prices appear to be coming back down to Earth. For example- the Pikes Peak Realtor Services Corp listed 334 homes- both existing properties and new build construction- actively for sale in El Paso County in January 2022. By the end of the year that number rose to a whopping 1,409! Increased inventory means more homes to choose from, less competition from other buyers over the same property, fewer bidding wars, and steadily declining prices month over month. Which leads us to our next question:

2. Do I have enough saved up to purchase a home?

We commonly receive calls from tenants asking if they need to be able to put 20%
down payment on a home- to which the answer is NO! Most loans only require anywhere from 3.5% to 5%, with some not requiring any down payment at all! Even then, some conventional loans allow for 3.% down, and there are several down payment assistant loans and grants you could be eligible for as well. Active duty service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses can obtain 100% financing on VA loans that don’t require mortgage insurance. We have several local lender contacts, knowledgeable and locally competitive we’re happy to refer you to anytime!

3. Shouldn’t I wait for interest rates to go back down?

Our honest opinion- no. Rates are higher now than they were in the last few years, but
historically 30 year mortgage rates in the United States averaged 7.75% from 1971 until 2023.
The highest rate during that time ? 18.63% in 1981! While rates increased in 2022, we’ve
experienced a steady decline in interest rates in the past two months, convincing some
economists that rates could level off through early 2023. While it’s unlikely we’ll see rates in the 2-3% range again for a very long time, some sellers are now offering to sell their home and assume their low interest loan at the same time, while others are offering to buy down your rate by 1-2% with a buydown program! We’re happy to provide more information on both of these options

We hope this article helps clear up some of the more common questions we hear from both first time and seasoned homebuyers. If you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss- and as always, be sure to inquire into our home purchasing program, which allows you to
purchase any home in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area without paying a break lease fee!

Thank you!
Morgan Schneider

719-260-9970 x105

Is it Illegal to Tackle Those Rental Property Repairs?

In some states, making capital improvements to rental properties while tenant-occupied is strictly prohibited.  This means that owners are required to wait to upgrade or improve their properties until there is some sort of vacancy period.  

Thankfully, in Colorado, we are able to make improvements, even remodel homes, while rented.  But, does that mean we should?  

As with many aspects of investment property management, there are definitely pros and cons to both approaches – making improvements while occupied or waiting for a vacancy period.  

It is likely that residents would appreciate improvements once completed, but would suffer inconveniences as the work is being done.  So, as a property manager or owner, when moving forward with these projects, are there ways to lessen the impact on the tenant?  At our office, when an owner is interested in tackling bigger projects, we try to coordinate scheduling with the occupant to maximize convenience to them. Perhaps there’s an upcoming vacation that will leave the property vacant for several days. Or, perhaps there is a way that the tenant can occupy another area of the home while work is being completed. We find that providing advance notice definitely makes planning on the part of the occupant much easier.  

During these projects, there are often several material choices owners would be happy with. For instance, when replacing flooring, there is usually more than one pattern or color of the product the owner would find acceptable. Involving the tenant in the decision-making process with these choices can help them feel vested in the project. 
Obviously, when the work is done, the tenant is able to enjoy all of the improvements. Owners, while not enjoying the improvements directly, often enjoy benefits like tenant longevity, shorter vacancy, and increased equity.

Please keep in mind that many projects can (and should) be coordinated during the vacancy between tenants.  This is especially true for projects (like interior paint, flooring, etc.) that are difficult to complete when a home is furnished or if a tenant is opposed to work being completed while they occupy the home.  

Over the years, there have been times we’ve been approached by homeowners for management services while they’re in the throes of implementing improvements. Too often, we see owners who are trying to complete these projects on their own.  This can easily delay our ability to begin marketing for a tenant and showing the property.  In these cases, it’s important to consider the benefits of having improvements completed by a professional.  Homeowners often decide to take on the project to save on labor costs.  However, there is always a trade off and owners can find themselves squeezing the work into an already very busy schedule, risking injury and delaying rental income. A project that would normally take a professional two weeks to complete might take homeowners two months to finish. If we’re able to start marketing for a new tenant sooner, we almost always find that the additional rental income covers the labor cost and then some.  So, in planning a project (especially during vacancy), my advice would be to really look at the numbers carefully. If you’re realistic about the time you’ll be investing, you might find that hiring an organized and efficient professional will result in a more profitable outcome.

In summary, capital improvements can be completed at occupied rental properties in Colorado.  However, it makes sense to talk with occupants to find an approach that will work for everyone.  Investing in improvements can benefit owners and tenants alike.

Who’s Paying Rent?

We are facing a major disruption in the economy right now and major media would have us all believe that if we stop paying our bills, then it will sort itself out eventually. As usual, the reality is a bit different though. Mortgage forbearance does not equal mortgage forgiveness and this means that home owners need to continue paying their monthly payments even if it is hard to make the payment happen. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has provided options for home owners who are unable to pay their monthly amount, but it does not specify what exactly lenders must do. The options can be anything from a forced refinancing of your loan (which carries corresponding additional charges and potentially higher monthly payments) to repayment of the missed payments being due in one large lump sum a few months down the road. These options don’t sound great and that’s kind of the point. If I, as a mortgage borrower, can’t make good on even one monthly payment, then I’m in default of my loan. That’s a bad thing, coronavirus or not.

This obviously leads to the next question, “What about renters who can’t pay their rent?” This is a question that we need to ask and one that has different answers depending on who you ask it of. There is no question that some of the most vulnerable of our community have been dealt a tough hand in this situation. Restaurant, retail, and other types of employees are typically not earning large incomes and are facing a crisis if they miss a week or two of pay. Sadly, the government’s response did not include a strategy for all of the displaced workers prior to the stay home order that effectively displaced all of these workers.

Similar to mortgage borrowers, if I, as a tenant, cannot pay my rent, then I’m in default of my lease and that is definitely a bad thing. Options for tenants who are unable to pay their rent are not really any different then they are for mortgage borrowers. The reality is that the rent cannot go unpaid without causing undue harm to the landlord, so typical responses from landlords follows the forbearance model: rent paid over longer time, due dates delayed, etc. The common theme is that the rent still needs to be paid at some point. One good point made by a local attorney was the matter of getting behind in rent. He said that most folks can manage to recover from getting behind by one rent payment, but the majority of renters will be unable to recover from falling behind on rent by more than that. As a result, it is definitely in a tenant’s best interest to try to make the rent one way or another and to try to stay on top of it until the economy is back in action.

This leads to the obvious question: how many tenants are in default for April and how does that compare to a normal April? For us, the delinquency rate for April, 2020 is right about 10% which compares to a delinquency rate of 4.73% in April of 2019. Those numbers are very coarse and include payment accommodations. With that said, I think that our tenants should be applauded for their commitment to sticking to their agreements even in the face of uncertainty. These numbers also demonstrate a stark difference from national news outlets reporting that far larger numbers of renters are not paying their rent.

With the upheaval that we’re seeing and the gloomy reporting, I think it is important for us to remain optimistic and to face down our problems together. We at Byrne Management are thankful for all of those who are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation.

Renting Sight Unseen

Moving to another area can be worrisome. From scheduling movers the right day and time to making sure all of your furniture will fit into your new space. Achieving peace of mind when moving, can seem impossible. Here is some guidance on what to expect and how to gather needed information.

The best time frame to look for a home is about 30-60 days in advance of your move. This is when existing tenants normally provide notice that they are moving. This means you should have more options.

The key is to prepare. It is time to set
realistic expectations and ask a lot of questions. This is a time not to only rely on photos of a property but to talk to a property management professional.

Here are some easy tips and steps to take when looking for your new home from afar.
• Contact the landlord or property management company. If a home is marketed for rent by a property management company, call them to request additional information. This is how you can find out if a property has central air conditioning, what the pet policy is, whether or not it has a fenced yard, and more.
• Do your research! As property management professionals, we follow Fair Housing regulations and we cannot offer a personal opinion regarding many aspects of a property. If you’re concerned about a neighborhood and want to get a feel for it remotely, utilize Google Earth to do a virtual walk through the neighborhood. If you’re concerned about criminal activity, visit the website for local law enforcement and review their crime maps. If you want to see how the local schools compare, there is a wealth of information at your fingertips online. There are many ways to give yourself peace of mind about an area bfore moving day arrives.
• Find out the rental criteria first for each company or landlord. Set realistic expectations with the adults you’re going to be living with. Each company has different requirements for proof of income, credit scores, rental references, and background. For example, at Byrne Management, we check the following: background. income, credit and rental references. For individuals who do not meet our income and credit criteria, we give the option for tenants to offer to pay the full lease term up front. Things like past evictions, late rental payments, and poor rental history are
considerations that most companies won’t overlook.

Taking these steps can be as easy as making a list of questions you would like to ask. Renting sight unseen can be smoother when all questions are answered! Please feel free to contact us about your move at (719) 260-9970.

How to Spot a Rental Scam

Too often we hear of situations in which a prospective tenant has fallen victim to an online rental scam. These individuals lose money to someone posing as an owner or property manager and find themselves with no way to recover the loss.  
This DOES happen in our Colorado Springs rental market, and we absolutely hate to hear stories like these.  So, we wanted to share with you some of the telltale signs of these scams, so you can keep a lookout during your home search.

Refusal to Show the Property

Most scammers are not local, so it’s impossible for them to provide access to a home for viewing.  They will often encourage interested parties to visit the exterior of the home and peek in the windows.  While self-showings are becoming more popular, even these situations require vetting of the person viewing in order to allow interior access through an electronic lockbox system.  If someone says they’re not able to show you (or your representative) the home, move on.

A Deal That Appears Too Good to Be True

Once you’ve been looking at rental properties for a bit, you begin to get a pretty good idea of what a fair rent rate looks like.  If you see a property that is hundreds of dollars lower than what it should be, don’t fall for it.  Rent rates are climbing in Colorado Springs.  Finding affordable housing is tough, but don’t let your desire for a good deal cloud your judgement.

Requiring a Wire Transfer or Funds Mailed

It is common for property owners/managers to require the deposit (at a minimum) to be delivered during the lease-signing process.  However, this is normally accomplished through a verifiable online system or hand-delivery.  If an owner is asking for a deposit to be delivered in any other way, request another method.  

Pressuring Candidates for Quick Action

If you are communicating with an owner or property manager and they are pushing for an immediate move in or a speedy delivery of funds, stop and question their motivation.  It’s okay to take a moment to think about the property and the situation to make sure it works for you.  It’s normal for a property owner or manager to have deadlines for the process.  However, these should be measured in days, not hours.  If you feel pressured to make a quick decision, then listen to your gut.

Pay Attention to the Details

Scammers have access to the same info that we all do.  They can look up a management company or a property owner online and in public records.  Just because an email address contains the owners real name does not mean you’re communicating with the owner.  In addition, if you see a lot of grammatical and typographical errors, you might be dealing with a scammer.  

Overall, loss from online scammers is not something we see on a daily basis.  However, it does happen and is a real risk.  Trust your instincts and act when you see red flags popping up.  A legitimate business or individual will gladly work with you to verify their identity.  Call us at Byrne Real Estate & Property Management if you have any questions about the rental process.  We’d love to hear from you!

Angela Byrne is the Broker/Owner of Byrne Real Estate & Property Management. She’s been licensed since 2004 and loves working with homeowners and tenants in the Pikes Peak Region.

Securing a Great Rental in a Low Inventory Market (Tips from a Property Manager)

By Stephanie Goudy, Byrne Real Estate & Property Management, Leasing Coordinator

Searching for your next rental home can be a daunting task. “Where do I even look for a rental home?” “Why is everything leasing so fast?” “Will I qualify to rent this home?”

As Colorado Springs Property Managers, we know the difficulties and challenges renters face when navigating the rental market for their next home. Colorado Springs homes for rent do not last long on the market, so staying active and vigilant online plays a key role in successfully procuring a Colorado Springs rental when competition is high.

Search Closer to Your Desired Move-in Date

Rentals listings are typically made active online between 30 and 60 days prior to the available date. If you are looking for a July move in, start your search in the May/June time frame. Starting too early can cause a headache of sifting through listings available too far out.

Check out Local Property Management Websites

Local Property Management websites are more up to date than syndicated websites. This means you will find the most accurate  information directly from the Property Management company vs. other popular home search sites.

Have all Your Ducks in a Row

Ready to apply? Come prepared! Ensure you are ready to provide proof of income, past rental history, and anything else the Property Manager will need to get you approved fast. You can always call before applying to find out exactly what documents are needed. Some companies work as a first come, first serve basis while others go based off the most qualified applicants. Be ready to throw your hat in the ring as soon as you start your search.

Moving from out of state has its own set of challenges. We encourage prospective tenants to view a property prior to submitting an application… which might be an issue if you are not local. Try to contact a local friend or family member to view a rental property on your behalf. Alternatively, some Real Estate agents will offer virtual tours for out of state renters.

Securing a rental home in a fast-paced market can be intimidating, but it is possible. Keep your eyes peeled and be ready to respond to a listing. You’ll be sure to find a home that’s perfect for you.  

a drain trap

The Drain That Wouldn’t

Drains are great! As planners in the early Indus Valley Civilization in Pakistan knew from dates as early as 2400 BC, effective and sanitary drains are just as important as a reliable water supply. Since then, drains have evolved from brick and tile waterways to iron and copper pipes, cement lined pipes, and various plastic solutions. When a drain doesn’t do its job properly, we notice fairly quickly. Read on for a lively discussion of ways to improve your drainage.

The most common drain that we see problems with is the kitchen drain. It stands to reason that the most commonly used drains will probably see problems more frequently. One of the most common drain problems in the kitchen can be directly related to what is being drained there. Here is a basic list of what should go into a drain (listed in numeric order based on priority):

  1. water

Yes, there are inevitably going to be other substances that end up in the drain pipe attached to your kitchen sink, but these other substances should be kept to a minimum! For example, after cooking your tasty bacon strips and producing vast quantities of deliciously smooth grease, where should this liquid gold be kept? For some, bacon grease serves an important function in cooking and any extraneous pork drippings should be hoarded in tin cans or ceramic bowls. For those people, nothing more need be said. For others though, it should be noted that your bacon juice will eventually congeal into a firm (yet tender!) blob of whitish color. Where we definitely do not want congealed masses, is in the drain work of a house. So, do yourself a favor and wait until the grease has cooled and then scrape it into the trash.

The trash is where almost all cooking byproducts should go and this is because it is the best pathway for solid disposal. To list everything that should not go down your kitchen drain would be silly and unproductive so just refer to the earlier list of what *should* go down the drain if in doubt. However, here are the top ten things to *NOT* send down your kitchen drain:

  1. Grease! That’s right! Don’t wash grease down your drain!
  2. Coffee grounds. This stuff builds up into big balls of disgusting brown sludge. Don’t put it down your drain.
  3. Flushable kitty litter. I didn’t realize this was a thing, but evidently it is. Don’t put it down your drain!
  4. Eggshells. Eggshells are best to go into the trash. Please just toss them there.
  5. Rice. You may have heard that it is irresponsible to throw rice at weddings, but did you know that it is also irresponsible to throw rice down your drain? Gosh, let’s just avoid throwing rice at all unless you’re throwing it in the trash.
  6. Pasta. No good will come of a solid block of macaroni in your kitchen sink drain. Trust me, throw away your leftover noodles.
  7. Rotisserie chicken. As amusing as it sounds, this apparently needs to be explicitly stated: do not throw a leftover rotisserie chicken into your disposal and expect that the drain can handle it. That’s just silliness and you know it.
  8. Fruit rinds and pits. The orange peels go in the garbage and so does your peach pit! The garbage disposal cannot shred a stone, so please don’t tempt fate.
  9. Bottle caps. Again, this seems like common sense, but somehow we see these things come up. If you see a bottle cap slide down the drain, don’t despair or pull your hair! Simply turn off the disposal and the faucet and insert your hand into the drain and remove it. That’s all!
  10. Pineapple. It has been a while since I was told that one way to “test” a disposal’s functionality was via pushing an entire pineapple down the drain, but here we are. Please don’t “test” the integrity of your appliance. That’s not really a good idea. Ever.

If you encounter a drain clog for whatever reason (hopefully not due to a rotisserie chicken or a pineapple), then keep the following guideline in mind: drains are meant to be serviceable. That means that there should be ways to clear that clog either by hand (put your hand down the drain!) or by disconnecting the piping under the sink.

As a rule, you should start with the easiest stuff first. That means look down the drain to see if there is gunk that you can pull out from the top of the drain. The most common stuff that clogs a bathroom sink is hair. To get at it, you might need a pair of long nose pliers or just use your fingers to get that hair out. Try that first. On a shower or tub drain, a clog is almost always due to hair. Again, find a way to fish out that wad of hair and your drain will hopefully start flowing smoothly once again. If those steps don’t solve the problem, then it is time to open the cabinet doors under the sink (assuming it is a sink!) and check the trap.

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The pipe looking thing on the right is known as a drain trap. It is called a trap because it traps any air from backing up and escaping from the pipe (stinky!). However, it will sometimes clog with hair/soap/whatever and you will need to unscrew the slip joint washers to clean it out. Be sure to have a bucket underneath to catch any water first!

Congratulations if you’ve successfully cleared a clogged drain! One drain that was not discussed was the toilet drain. That one is a bit more tricky and less serviceable than the other drains. However, you can still help yourself by having a handy plunger for instances when the toilet does not seem to be draining like it should. Using a plunger is very simple, but for purposes of full detailed information, you should note that when using a plunger it needs to create a seal on the bottom of the toilet bowl in order to build pressure in the drain. Once the seal has been established, you simply deliver short quick strokes with the handle to build the pressure and (hopefully!) clear the clog.

Ultimately, if you’ve followed basic self help and you still cannot get your drain to do its job, then it is time to call a professional. If you have multiple drains that are backing up and not draining properly, then this is a bigger problem and requires bigger solutions. In the case of several drains not working, then it is time to ask a plumber to use what is known as a drain snake to mechanically clear the main line. If, however, you have just a toilet backing up or one sink that does not drain right, then you’ll need to follow the instructions above and if that fails, call a plumber to come help out.

May your drains always be flowing down and out!