8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Strata Manager

Our insider tips to the questions you should be asking your prospective Strata Manager.

Good or bad, most people judge an entire strata agency on the working relationship they have with their strata manager.

We have prepared this short list of questions that you should be asking prior to making a decision to appoint a new Strata Agent.

How many buildings does your proposed new Strata Manager already look after

Your entire strata experience depends on this simple question. Most agents manage large portfolios, to the point where they can spend most of their time putting out spot fires rather than giving you the proactive service that you are looking for.

What’s included in the monthly management fee

Most agencies charge a monthly management fee which covers agreed services. Works performed outside of the agreed services are charged as an additional fee. You can negotiate with an agency to have fixed price disbursements to give you a clearer understanding of how much your scheme will be paying per year.

Qualifications

The Strata Manager that will be managing your building should at least hold a Certificate 4 in Strata Title Management. Ideally this would have been gained through a Tafe course. It is possible to get a Certificate 4 in Strata Management by paying to do a 2 week course. It is also a good idea to ask how long they have been with the agency.

Experience

When approaching a potential new agent, it’s a fair question to ask how much experience the strata manager has that will actually be managing your building and in case things do go wrong, how much experience they have in attending mediation and tribunal hearings.

Reporting

How often are financial reports generated and are they delivered just the treasurer to the entire committee? Ideally this will be available on a monthly basis.

Service Level Agreements

Strata management is customer service. Your new agent should be able to provide you with time frames of when your requests will be actioned, emails replied to and telephone calls returned.

Your money, your input

It’s your building and you don’t necessarily want the Strata Manager to do everything, so it’s important to clarify how much input will you have in approving creditor payments and what level of input will the committee have when the agent is preparing the proposed budget.

Agreement terms

When appointing a new agent, most will try to lock you in for the maximum period of 3 years. If the services doesn’t meet your expectations you are locked in for the term of the agreement, unless your scheme decides to pay out the remaining term of the agreement. It is a better option to sign a one year agreement and see how things go.

Simple Tips For Low Cost Home Improvements

Have you been thinking about remodeling your home? Keep in mind that you can often achieve your goal without a giant expense. Small improvements introduced in almost every room, including the exterior of the house can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Keep it clean and keep it simple!

A clean and neat house is appealing and eye-catching. You can start improving the appearance of your house simply by cleaning out the debris. Try making your garden look like an ideal place with some weeding and cleaning out the flower beds. Paint the front door to give your home a more welcoming feeling.

De-cluttering is also a part of cleaning, so get rid of things you don’t need to make room for new ones. The first glance is usually enough for a selective buyer to quickly estimate a house.

Does the exterior of your home need repainting? Is there a walkway that you can highlight by introducing some flowers? Remember to keep it simple. Focus on making things neat and tidy.

Two hot spots of every home:

The two most closely inspected rooms of a house are the kitchen and the master bathroom. If you are looking to focus on two hot spots, these are the interior rooms where the most value can be added during a sale, so make them look their best to increase your return on investment.

Is your kitchen may be in need of an upgrade? A well updated kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so focus on spicing up this room to grab buyer attention. Renovating your kitchen using modern d├ęcor is going to instantly improve the value of your home. Many times a buyer will compromise on other rooms and will buy a home just because its kitchen is well-maintained and inviting.

The same holds true for bathrooms, especially the master bathroom. You will charm open house-goers with modern upgrades like dual vanities and soaking tubs in your master bath. Replace the faucets and clean up the bathroom counter. We would again emphasize on simplicity because for easy maintenance.

What to Invest in?

So, you’re done de-cluttering, cleaning and upgrading. What’s next? Well, if you are willing to make a good upgrade investment, it is recommended to divide your renovation plan into four parts to bring impressive improvements to your home. Here are the four areas you may want to seriously consider upgrading:

Lighting: If you are not satisfied with the lighting system in your house, replace it.

This would entail buying lighting fixtures and other equipment for each room to make it look consistent and attractive.

Plumbing: Many old homes have rusty pipes and some leakage in the plumbing that needs attention. Your home will not sell fast and at a price you have in mind if you haven’t already upgraded the plumbing system.

Flooring: Most people nowadays look for hardwood floors or alternatives that are easy to manage and provide health benefits instead of carpeting. Tiled floors are also fairly acceptable. If you think this improvement would bring you higher profits, make the investment without delay.

HVAC Replacement: Today new energy-efficient HVAC systems are being introduced to the market that incur a one-time cost and help you save huge amounts of money on utility bills. You can add a unique selling feature to your house by making this replacement part of your home improvement strategy.

What’s really worth repairing?

Remember that not all things are worth repairing; some need to be thrown out and others need to be replaced. This is a good principle to follow when staging a home.

Inspect every aspect of your home and then come up with a plan within your budget to bring a fresh crisp look to your home. You may want to replace outdated appliances in the kitchen with new modern models. Repairing old appliances is not an option. If your budget doesn’t allow an appliance upgrade, simply give the ones you use a color-boost to improve their appearance.

If you already have wooden floors installed at home, look for scratches and be prepared for some refinishing. Wooden floors are highly desirable, even if they are old and worn. Give them a little lift-up to make them more attractive and appealing.

Nowadays energy-efficiency has found its way into many of our systems including the windows. Home buyers look for the latest windows and other systems that are designed as energy-efficient since they provide a number of economical, health and environmental benefits. Replace your old windows for new energy-efficient windows to improve the value of your home.

10 Quick Tips On Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the first impression of your home especially when you are trying to sell it. Make it count and woo in buyers to come inside. I know you are probably thinking curb appeal is the last thing on your mind. Why should you spend any time on the outside when the inside is good enough?

Because the first impression people make is the one they will stick with. Buyers make an opinion within 8-10 seconds of seeing the home. When they pull up to the home, the curb appeal is the first thing they see.

And if the outside isn’t taken care of, then what makes the buyer think the inside is well maintained? So here are 10 tips on how you can make a great first impression with your curb appeal

1. Mow the lawn – Tall grass is an indication that you no longer live there or don’t care. Either one is bad. If you had to move out before selling your home, have a lawn service come over weekly to keep the grounds maintained.

2. Mulch beds – If you have flower beds in the front of your home, rake up the mulch so it looks fresh. Make sure the mulch has not receded to the point of showing bare ground. Add more if needed.

3. Get rid of weeds – Weeding can be an almost weekly chore, but it makes such a difference if you have a beautiful garden. Weeds are like clutter in a garden. Pick them out to show off the plants and shrubs.

4. Power wash sidewalks/house – Hire out or rent a power washer to get your sidewalks and siding cleaned. It is the easiest way to freshen up the outside without painting. Just like you scrubbed those kitchen counters and stove, the sidewalk and siding need that same elbow grease.

5. Cut shrubs back away from the house – I’ve seen many houses where the shrubs are planted right next to the house and they seem to swallow up the home! Cut them back so that you can actually see the house. If you have tall trees in front of the house, lift the tree canopy by cutting the lower limbs so you can see the home as well.

6. Remove cobwebs and insect homes (wasp nests) – Walk around your home and sweep away the cobwebs. If you power wash your home, you may have already gotten them. Pay particular attention to any potential wasp nests under the eaves and remove them. Not only will it help clean up the house, but you don’t have to worry about getting stung later. If you have an infestation, call a professional to remove them right away.

7. Sweep/wash the porch – If you have a porch or an alcove to the front door, dirt and dust can accumulate here too. Make the front door area welcoming by adding a plant holder with a potted plant or a colorful chair.

8. House numbers need to be visible – Nothing is more frustrating than looking for house numbers. Be sure to put the numbers on the door or just beside it. Make sure your mailbox has numbers on it too. If there is no mailbox and your house is hidden behind some trees, add a post at the end of the driveway and screw numbers to the post. That way, there is no confusion on the address.

9. Front door stands out – You would be amazed at how many homes have multiple doors on the front of the house. Make sure there is a clear path to the front door and nothing hides it like bushes or potted plants. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint if it needs it.

10. Fix broken items (solar lights, steps, screen) – I see this all the time. Solar lights installed along the walkway but they are missing tops, fell over or have been stepped on by the dog. Fix them or remove them.

Again we are trying to woo the buyer into coming into the home. If they have to walk through a jungle to get to the front, it could scare them away. Polish up that curb appeal and you will be on your way to moving out quickly.