Heading South for the winter? If you’re one of the fortunate retirees who has smartly chosen to sit out the grueling Bold North winter in a more temperate climate, you’ll want to make sure your home here in Minnesota is thoroughly prepared for your absence and cared for while you’re away. Here are some expert tips on prepping and safeguarding your temporarily vacant home that will give you the peace of mind you deserve while enjoying that warm lush life.
Protect Your Pipes to Avoid Water Damage by Turning Off Your Water Supply
- A burst pipe could cause significant damage. Consider completely turning off your water supply if you will be away for an extended period of time. If your home is heated by steam heat, consult with an HVAC specialist to determine if it is safe to turn off your water supply for your particular heating system. Also, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, make sure that you do not turn off the water to this system.
- If you do turn off your water supply, drain your pipes of all water by opening the faucets, and flush your toilet to clear the water from the tank and bowl. Many snowbirds pour antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing, but if you opt for this, make sure to use non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems.
- You may wish to hire a licensed plumber to complete these steps. The plumber can also confirm that the pipes have been fully drained by blowing compressed air through the pipes.
Take Steps to Protect Your Home from Thieves
- Make sure your alarm systems are working and activated.
- Secure doors and windows with deadbolts, and install slide locks on sliding glass doors.
- Store valuables in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
- Avoid posting your vacation or travel plans on social media sites, as potential thieves can use that information to learn when your house will be vacant.
Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm
- If you decide not to turn off your water, keep your furnace running to ensure your home stays warm and your pipes don’t freeze.
- Set the temperature at 55°F to 60°F to help keep the interior above freezing temperatures. Leaving cabinet doors open can also help heat circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
- Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers to avoid any leaks or broken hoses while you are away.
- Turn off hot water heaters (if separate from your boiler).
- Consider shutting off and draining outdoor faucets to prevent water damage due to freezing.
Prevent Your Home From Appearing Unoccupied
- Forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery.
- Arrange for someone to remove snow after storms.
- Put motion-sensitive exterior lights and interior lights on timers and set them to come on at varying times to discourage prowlers.
- Consider using an experienced snowbird property management firm Tradewind Properties who will make sure that issues like mail and package delivery, plowing and shoveling and lighting are managed so that your home looks occupied and active while you’re gone.
Considering renting out your property? When it’s time to spruce up your rental, attract potential tenants with these quick, simple improvements.
- Focus on that Kitchen
Today’s renters are putting a lot of emphasis on one room in the house: the kitchen. The layout, details, and functionality of the kitchen can make or break a property. While you don’t have to do a complete remodel or change the layout of your existing kitchen, there are a few quick improvements that can make the kitchen wow your tenants.Install new cupboard hardware, a shiny new retractable faucet, and a hidden space for the trash can. Repaint the walls if they’re looking dim, and spend some time thinking of smart storage solutions for the kitchen. Making the kitchen inviting, clean, and modern will help potential tenants imagine themselves in this important space.
- In-Home Laundry
Carrying around loads of laundry is a pain, and in-home laundry is one of those items that shows up on most tenants’ wish lists. Even if it is a small washer and dryer, stacking or side-by-side, see if you can fit in these appliances to make your tenants’ lives easier.
- Allow Pets
There are pros and cons to allowing pets or not allowing them, but being open to dogs and cats can open up your rental pool significantly. Read more on this subject.
- Clean It Up
This may seem obvious, but deep cleaning all parts of your rental space is crucial. Don’t skimp on washing windows, floorboards, door frames, blinds, and every inch of the bathrooms. Hire a carpet cleaning service to make sure your carpets are fresh. Although most people won’t notice that your place is spic-n-span, they will notice if it’s not.
- Improve Your Curb Appeal
Taking time to amp up your exterior can range from repainting the entire façade, to planting flowers or putting an afternoon’s time into the lawn. Try any of these simple ideas to make your property more inviting: spray for weeds, scatter grass seed on bald spots, plant shrubs or flowers, repair cracks in the sidewalks or driveway, and repaint trim or shutters.
For more assistance with renting out your property―including vetting and finding tenants or conducting a Home Rental Analysis, contact the real estate experts at Tradewind Properties: 763-657-1957. We are here to help!
As a landlord, you have two major concerns: keeping your rental property occupied, and keeping it in good shape so it appeals to tenants. Tradewind Properties takes care of the first concern for you, so let’s focus on the second.
Each tenant will have ways to make your rental property feel like home to them, as they should. But as the landlord, what changes should you allow and when should you say no?
To put it simply, think about which changes will be either reversible when current renters move out, or a clear upgrade that will improve the value of the property.
For example, changes that will make tenants happy, but are reversible, could include:
- Changing the blinds.
- Swapping out light-switch covers.
- Painting the walls. This one can be a triumph or a disaster. It is best to either approve any colors the tenants are suggesting, or arrange a fee for the walls to be painted back to original upon them moving out.
- Replacing shower heads, specialty light bulbs, or other easy swaps.
- Light fixtures, although it is recommended that a licensed electrician be hired for this job.
- Custom built-ins for the closets.
- Any baby-proofing.
Generally-speaking, most major upgrades should come out of your wallet, as the owner of the property. But small changes to the rental can be the tenants’ choosing (and on their dime), and will help give them a say in how their living space feels. Assuming they gain your permission and that the upgrades improve the value of the property, consider giving a thumbs up to these:
- Replacing drawer pulls and other hardware.
- Deep cleaning the carpets, power spraying the deck, or other major cleaning endeavors.
- Painting walls or cabinets (see above).
- Installing shelving in the garage, mud room, laundry room, etc.
- Upgrading the kitchen sink to include a retractable kitchen faucet, an in-sink soap dispenser, or adding a garbage disposal.
- Bringing in their own appliances that they will leave behind (assuming they’re a step above what you currently have).
- Bathroom upgrades like towel rods, towel hooks, or a medicine cabinet.
- Installing ceiling fans (again, with the help of a professional).
- Planting herbs, bulbs or flowers in garden.
When to Say No
Sometimes what seems like a fabulous idea to some is either too permanent, too hazardous, or too ugly to allow in your rental property.
- Cut-outs for an A/C unit.
- Fire pits or other fire hazards.
- Basketball hoops installed on the exterior. Chances are good the next tenants might not be as keen on a game of hoops.
- Anything that diminishes the functionality or character of a place, such as painting over original brick, closing off a fireplace, or adding an awning which only keeps light from getting in the windows, etc.
- Changing the locks or security system. Unless you mutually agree to change the locks, and the landlord takes the lead, this is obviously a big no-no.
Please note that safety issues, repairs and major upgrades are part of a landlord’s responsibilities. The staff at Tradewind Properties can help you manage all of these, including emergency handyman visits for repairs.
Keep an open line of communication with your tenants, and be open to suggestions for how they can make your property feel like home. It’s beneficial to both parties if tenants and landlord are satisfied and in agreement.
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or renting out your property, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
If you’re a pet owner, you know how difficult it can be to find a rental home that allows pets, and how out-of-the-question it would be to leave them behind. But as a landlord, should you allow pets in your rental property or just say no? Consider these points when deciding whether you’d accept dogs, cats, other pets, or none at all.
Pros to Allowing Pets
- Higher Rent: If you’re open to allowing pets, increase your rent/month or establish a monthly pet fee. Pet owners are usually asked to pay more per month in rent than non-pet owners due to the probability of extra clean-up or property damage.
- Higher or Additional Deposit: Similarly, landlords should require an additional or increased deposit to cover any pet-related costs.
- Appeal to Pet Owners: Opening your property to pet-owners widens your pool of potential renters, many of whom may be having trouble finding a place for their whole household.
- You’ve Been There: If you’re a pet owner yourself, you know how it feels to have your animals be a part of your family. You would be helping a similar family find a home that suits their needs.
Cons to Allowing Pets
- High Risk of Damage: Between claws, teeth, and the habit of urinating inside, pets can bring a whole range of damage to your property. Young puppies, kittens, and older pets who have trouble with incontinence can be especially risky.
- That Smell: Dog and Cat smell is nearly impossible to avoid, and even harder to get out of a home. Especially if they’re having accidents on the carpet or spraying like male cats can do, ridding your rental of that odor can be difficult and can make it hard to rent out again.
- Barking or other Nuisances to Neighbors: If your renters’ pet is being noisy, roaming into others’ yards, or worse, being aggressive or a danger to others, you as the landlord will have to deal with it. It is much harder to tell a family they have to move out or get rid of their pet than just saying no to pets in the beginning.
- Taking someone’s word for it: Experience says that even though renters will promise that their pet doesn’t bark, doesn’t bite, doesn’t have accidents, and is an absolute angel, they may just be trying to get into your rental. As a property management company, Tradewind Properties vets your potential renters to be sure that you know what you’re getting into. We ask for updated veterinarian records on the pet’s health and behavior and request a detailed pet rental reference from a current and/or past landlord.
If you are going to allow pets, consider these tips:
- Add a monthly pet fee or an additional pet deposit. The experienced agents at Tradewind Properties will help you determine the right deposit or pet rent to ask for based on the individual home and market.
- Check with your city ordinances, HOA, and landlord’s insurance to see if certain breeds are not allowed or not covered by insurance.
- Landlords may want to require dogs and cats to be over one year old, potty-trained, and up to date on all shots. Puppies and kittens can do significantly more damage than trained adult pets.
- If you’ve decided not to allow dogs and cats, what about birds, reptiles, or small pets like hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs? Think of the above pros and cons, but on a smaller scale.
When you work with Tradewind Properties, we will help you set your preferred pet policy (within the guidelines of your HOA). At a minimum, we require all pets to be 1 year or older, be up-to-date on all shots, and be licensed within the city (if applicable). When a potential renter applies, we will verify the vet records and behavior of the pet for you, and will perform a routine inspection of the property 1-2 months after a new tenant moves in to ensure no lease violations are occurring.
Generally, we at Tradewind Properties have found that allowing pets is beneficial as it broadens your pool of potential renters, and we’d love to help you prepare for renting out your property, pets or no pets!
**Please note that the above tips are strictly related to pets and do not pertain to the laws governing service animals.
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or renting out your property, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
When considering becoming a landlord and renting out your property, you may be wondering how insurance will help you manage the risks of your new arrangement.
Landlord Insurance is a specific type of coverage for this situation, and, along with working with a good property management company, is one of the best ways to be fully prepared to be a landlord.
What’s Covered by Landlord Insurance?
Each insurance company is different, and coverage will differ. Talk to your insurance agent for full details. But in general, Landlord Insurance may help you in the following situations.
- Fair Rental Value Coverage. This is the biggest difference between home insurance and landlord insurance. If your property becomes uninhabitable for a reason that is covered, Landlord Insurance should cover your lost rental income while repairs are being finished, usually up to 12 months.
- Dwelling Coverage of your rental property from fire, hail, vandalism, and other dangers.
- Coverage of other structures on the property, such as garages, sheds, etc.
- Coverage of Items that you own on the property, like appliances, furniture you’ve provided, or even tools you keep there.
- Liability Coverage; Legal Counsel and Medical expenses should someone become injured on the property.
Some insurance companies will offer discounts for certain circumstances, such as:
- New/ Recently-Renovated Home Discount, for rental properties newer than approx. 13 years old, or newly renovated.
- Multi-policies Discount, for those covering several properties, or a property and car, for example.
- Protective Devices Discount: may apply if you use a security alarm, a sprinkler system, deadbolts, fire extinguishers, etc.
Other Questions Insurance Companies May Ask
In order to determine the right coverage for you, your insurance company may want to know some additional information.
- Do you currently live in the same home as your tenant?
- How many properties are you renting out?
- What type of unit are you renting out?
- Do you rent out your property intermittently, or on a regular basis for longer periods of time?
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or about landlord insurance, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
Congratulations! Now that you’ve made the choice to rent out your property, think about whether it’s best for you to take on the role of landlord and manage your rental yourself, or hire a property management company for help.
Depending on your skills, free time, and experience, it may be best to hire a property management company if:
1. You’re not up for the detailed organization and upkeep of managing a property.
City ordinances, affordable housing programs, and local practices can overwhelm some landlords when it comes time to rent.
2. You’re not sure how to draw up a rental agreement, or run the proper background checks.
Management companies will perform the necessary credit and background checks on possible renters, and will supply the legal agreements as you enter into your new landlord/tenant relationship.
3. Your daily life keeps you busy and you’d like to leave the management tasks to professionals.
Being a landlord can be a breeze one month and require more hours of troubleshooting and on-site visits the next. If you maintain a full-time job and have a busy schedule, you can pass along these tasks.
4. You may be renting out several properties, but you’re not looking to make “landlord” your day-job.
If you’re looking to take on several properties, a property management company can definitely help with the volume.
5. You’re not going to be living nearby.
Many savvy homeowners who are moving out of town will choose to rent out their home instead of selling. But being far away can prevent a landlord from being able to show the space, meet potential tenants, or do home repairs.
6. You’re not looking forward to taking on the risks associated with managing a property.
If the thought of tenants missing payments, finding new tenants, or dealing with unexpected home repairs makes you cringe, there’s an easier way to meet your real estate and renting goals.
Contact Us to Learn More
Tradewind Properties is locally and veteran-owned, and can assist new landlords with all aspects of the renting process.
If you’re considering renting out your home, but you’re unsure whether there’s a market for renters, consider these reasons why a home can be an even better fit for potential renters than the usual apartment.
No shared walls, and no upstairs or downstairs neighbors! Add in the personal space of a yard, garden, patio, or deck, and your tenants suddenly have much more privacy than they would in an apartment.
The amenities available to apartment dwellers are very different from what a single family home can offer, and often appeal to different types of tenants. Apartments often have great amenities like indoor or outdoor pools, party rooms, exercise rooms, or shuttle buses. But a home competes with these by offering in-house laundry, private garages, and private yards or gardens.
From the size of closets, to the garage stall, bedrooms, and outdoor space for children and pets, single family homes generally mean more space. If the budget allows, many tenants will gladly choose a bit more breathing room.
Some potential tenants may incorrectly assume that a single family home rental means working directly with the homeowner. Depending on the homeowner, this experience can be less consistent and less responsive than a management company.
Tradewind Properties is the answer to that, as we manage all components of the rental for homeowners, from finding tenants and performing background checks, to collecting rent, to answering maintenance calls if something needs repair.
Although the Twin Cities is less bound by this generalization, apartment buildings are often located in more urban areas, and single family homes for rent are often farther away from the city-center. You can certainly find single family homes for rent in quiet areas of Minneapolis, and apartment buildings dot the suburban landscape throughout the Twin Cities. For those looking for a quieter, suburban place to call home, a single family home can be the perfect fit.
6. Personal Styling
A homeowner, and by extension their tenants, have more freedom to make decisions about the property without needing to follow apartment complex guidelines. Whether you’d like to paint, install a satellite dish, or display your collection of garden gnomes, it will be easier to have those conversations if you’re renting out a single family home.
Considering renting out your home or purchasing a rental property?
Our team of realtors will meet with you to determine your goals and get those rent checks coming in!
Local and Military-Veteran-owned
We’re proud to announce that Tradewind Properties has been named in the Top 50 Veteran-Owned Businesses by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
“Veterans bring an excellent blend of hard work and ingenuity to our team. They are tested and results-driven, with excellent team-building skills,” says Brandon Martin, Owner and Real Estate Broker at Tradewind Properties.
“It was an honor to be named to the Top 50 Veteran-Owned Businesses List by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Many of the core values that I developed from the Navy ring true in the day-to-day operations of running this business. As a staff, we put a strong emphasis on working together and being accountable.”
This is the first year that Tradewind Properties has been included on this list.
Tradewind Properties is also included in the list of the Top 50 Veteran-Owned Businesses according to the American Registry.
See what sets us apart in real estate investment and property management.
If you’re planning a move to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, your first thoughts may include visions of snow piles and crazed Vikings fans, followed by a sincere desire to consult a map to find us.
First, welcome! It’s a great place to live, so rest easy, get a down coat, and read on for what to expect when moving to the Twin Cities.
1. Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Weather
With 55 inches of snow per year, you should not be surprised to see snow falling outside your window anytime from mid-October to April. Luckily, Minnesotans come to generally learn to live with the white stuff, and have devised tricks and entertaining ways to enjoy the winter months (For example, both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul have miles of skyways connecting the buildings one story off the ground to escape the weather.).
Minnesota is ranked 8th in the nation for greatest temperature swing over a year’s time. Ranging from an average high of 85° in July to an average low of 8° in January, often getting down to the negative double-digits, we ride those swings for all their worth. (Record high is 115° while the record low is -60°. That’s a difference of 175°!).
Getting around the 6,000 sq. miles of the Twin Cities is generally done by car (preferably with 4 wheel drive), but Metro Transit also runs many bus lines, light rail, and rush hour commuter transportation to and from suburbs. With several additional transitways in the planning stages, this is likely to expand further. Several suburbs also have their own bus systems and/or Dial-a-ride curb-to-curb service, and Uber has a presence as well.
As for traffic, Minneapolis and St. Paul certainly have areas of congestion and moments of pure frustration, and Minneapolis is ranked #35 in the nation for worst traffic. Depending on where you’re coming from, this may be a relief or a drag. But as one author writes, referring to a recent MnDOT report on traffic, “Twin Cities Traffic Congestion Goes From Fine to Still Fine.”
One thing to note is the Twin Cities’ devotion to biking. The League of American Cyclists has named Minneapolis a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community, while St. Paul is designated as Bronze Level. Approximately 4,500 Minneapolitans bike to work, one of the highest in the nation. Throughout the cities you will also see “Nice Ride” stations where one can check out a bright green bike and return it to any of the 170 other Nice Ride bike docks for a small rental fee.
If you’re moving to the Twin Cities, chances are good that it may be a career move. As one local headhunter points out, “It’s really tough to get people to consider moving to the Twin Cities, but once they’re here, it’s nearly impossible to get them to leave.”
Minnesota boasts more Fortune 500 companies per capita than all but one other state. 18 locally-based companies are on the list, including Target, UnitedHealth Group, Best Buy, 3M, General Mills, Medtronic, and Supervalu. With a long history of innovation, don’t discount the number of small businesses that bring character and new services & products to the area.
The cost of living in Minneapolis is 7% lower than nearby Chicago, and 32% lower than San Francisco, while St. Paul is even lower (14% lower than Chicago and 37% lower than San Fran).
4. Arts, Theater, and Culture
Former mayor of Baton Rouge once said, “The arts are the best insurance policy a city can take on itself.” In this case, the Twin Cities have a top-notch policy. With nearly 60 museums, visitors can view fine art, contemporary art, exhibitions on history, natural science, cultural heritage, and all manner of discoveries for the kiddos.
The Minneapolis Institute of Art is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and houses an encyclopedic collection of nearly 90,000 pieces. The Walker Art Center focuses on contemporary art, and is considered by Newsweek to be “possibly the best contemporary art museum in the U.S.” The Science Museum of Minnesota and the Children’s Museum will both have you in awe, and many more museums are worth a visit.
Interested in Theater? Minneapolis boasts the highest number of theater seats per capita outside of New York City. From the newly renovated Guthrie Theater overlooking the Mississippi and presenting top-notch productions, to the Children’s Theater, to the nation’s largest dinner theater in Chanhassen, seeing a show is a must on your list.
What about music? The Minnesota Orchestra was recently nominated for a Grammy award, and can be seen at Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall. The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, and countless vocal and instrumental groups keep us tapping our toes and loving this city.
5. Real Estate
According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, both pending sales and closed sales reached 10-year highs during the month of June 2015. High buyer activity means that sellers are receiving on average 97.8% of their original list price. The median home sale price in Minneapolis is $229,000.
The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” doesn’t disappoint, with 90,000 miles of shoreline and 929 metro area lakes. From the urban chain of lakes with views of the skyline, to the massive Lake Minnetonka, lakes of varying sizes positively cover the metro area. Summer brings swimming, beaches, boating, paddleboarding, fishing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, and water skiing. Winter brings ice fishing, pond hockey, beautiful winter scenes, cross-country skiing on the ice, snowmobiling, and even on-ice art displays.
With more miles of shoreline in Minnesota than in California, and one recreational boat per every six people (the most in the country), get out and enjoy!
Ok, this may not be as life-affecting as career or the arts, but we have to mention… Starbucks is great and all, but it has a serious run for its money in Minnesota. Home of Dunn Bros. Coffee, local roaster Cameron’s Coffee, and the giant favorite with the cabin feel Caribou Coffee, the Twin Cities offers a bit more than your standard green straw. Don’t worry, there is still a café on nearly every corner or every strip mall, it just may be something even better.
Minnesota has the highest number of golfers per capita in the nation. Consider that the golf season lasts only from April (if you’re lucky) to October, and you can see it is another way Minnesotans take full advantage of the warmer months.
9. Location, aka Getting Out of the Twin Cities
When it’s time to get away, luckily the rest of the state offers travel destinations that make it worth a weekend trip. Try to go north on any interstate on a summer Friday and you’ll believe us. That’s because everyone seems to own, or be related to someone who owns, a cabin. Cabin life is as Minnesotan as loons and mosquitos.
“Up North” can mean anything north of the cities, but many times refers to the “North Shore” of Lake Superior. A must-see destination, the largest of the Great Lakes is spectacular any season of the year. Duluth, the state’s third largest city, rests at the southern tip and serves as a gateway to the North Shore’s line of cabins and resorts.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a 1 million acre pristine wilderness area that sees 200,000 visitors a year who come to portage and camp. From the grandiose Lake of the Woods on the border of Canada to the wineries in southern Minnesota, there are plenty of historical, cultural, and natural sites to take in.
From the Experts in this Local Rental Market…
Welcome to the Twin Cities!
Minnesota’s Red-Hot Rental Market
The housing market in twin cities certainly seems to be heading in the right direction. The number of new buyers hitting the market is on the rise. And the corresponding increase in demand, combined with a dwindling supply of inventory, has helped boost the area’s median sales price of single family homes to roughly 6.5% over the last year.
There has also been a spike in the number of new apartment buildings going up around town. In 2014, the metro area saw an increase of nearly 5,000 new units added to the apartment market. The forecast for 2015 predicts that we’ll likely see another 2,000 – 3,000 before it’s all said and done.
Yet despite these two key economic factors, the twin cities rental market remains red hot, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This may seem contradictory to the previously cited statistics. But the demand for rentals continues to climb. In fact, even with the increase in supply, the overall vacancy rate for the twin cities is right around 5.6%. The apartment sector alone is even more impressive, boasting a ridiculously low rate of roughly 2.5%.
As it is with most economic upturns, job growth is the key cog for fueling the rental demand. The Minnesota market was one of the least affected areas following the nation’s recession of recent years. And a steady job growth rate since then has helped the local economy to bounce back nicely. While the national unemployment rate sits right around 5.5%, Minnesota is sitting pretty with a rate of 3.7% – the lowest it’s been in 13 years.
And as the job growth rate continues to steadily grow, so too does the state’s population. New jobs attract more people, which in turn drives the demand for housing. So as long as these trends keep trending upward, the Minnesota rental market will remain rock solid.
Call the trusted source for Sales, Leasing and Property Management in the twin cities. Please contact Tradewind Properties today for a FREE consultation and home rental or sales analysis.