What Are A Landlord’s Responsibilities Relating To Maintenance And Repairs?

VRLY October 12, 2020 0

What Are A Landlord’s Responsibilities Relating To Maintenance And Repairs? Have you ever wondered what sort of tasks fall under a landlord and what falls under a tenant when it comes to a rental property? While you are expected to treat a rental property like your own, who does what when there is a leaking pipe or a broken drain? What is the tenant’s responsibility, and what falls down to the landlord? The focus in a tenancy is to ensure a property is taken care of and kept in the same condition it was found in. While everyone expects a little wear and tear, the focus is to ensure that the property is taken care of to a high standard, and any repairs or maintenance are carried out by the landlord to ensure the safety of the tenant and their family. When is a landlord supposed to take care of repairs? The tenancy agreement will outline the condition of the property when the tenancy commenced and the paperwork will outline any items that are damaged or fixtures that could be due for maintenance or repair. Some examples of when a landlord should take care of repairs include:
  • Broken glass in doors, windows or in the structure of the property that needs repair and has not been caused by the misuse of the tenant
  • Blocked drains, broken drains, and issues with plumbing
  • Leaking bath or shower
  • Leaks in the roof or issues with the roof
  • Issues with the flooring or broken flooring causing the property to be a risk or hazard
  • Pests or infestations
There is a long list of repairs and maintenance the landlord should cover, and the tenancy agreement will provide a lot of detail on what is covered and what is the responsibility of the tenant. A list of emergency numbers is provided in the tenancy agreement, so if there is an emergency plumbing issue in the middle of the night, for example, the tenant can action the issue immediately without further damage to the property and belongings occurring. How quickly should a landlord attend to repairs and damage? The answer to this really depends on a case by case basis. If the issue is an emergency, the tenant can use the emergency contacts to arrange emergency plumbing repairs and emergency electrical repairs. If the damage or repairs is something that can be attended to in a few days, a report will be lodged outlining the repairs and maintenance, and the landlord should take care of this in a fair and reasonable amount of time. The key to note is that the damage or repairs should ensure the safety of the tenants, and if the landlord is not taking care of the property adequately they can be fined. The standard expectation is that repairs will be carried out within 2 days and if a tenant thinks the landlord is not taking care of the tenancy they can be in hot water. Image Credit: Unsplash

6 Tips That Will Help You Prevent A Clogged Drains In Your Home

VRLY October 12, 2020 0

6 Tips That Will Help You Prevent A Clogged Drains In Your Home

Nobody likes dealing with clogged drains, not only are they an inconvenience, but not treating a clogged drain can also cause detrimental problems to your home’s plumbing system in the long-run.

Luckily, clogged drains aren’t difficult to prevent, all you’ve got to do is take the necessary precautions and be aware of what you’re flushing down the drain. Here are some tips to help prevent clogged drains and keep your plumbing system in tip-top shape.

Install a lint catcher

It’s common for washing machine drains to be backed up thanks to the lint, fabric, and bits of tissue that can get stuck within the hose and cause issues to your drain.

To prevent this from happening, you should purchase a lint trap and install it on the end of your drain hose. When installing your lint catcher, use a zip tie to help hold it in place. You should also monitor the trap and replace it when it’s full.

Don’t pour grease down your drain

One of the worst things you can do is pour grease down your drain. While warm grease will go down the pipe, it’ll solidify after it has cooled and will likely result in an unfortunate clog in your drain.

The best way to prevent this from happening is not to pour any grease or oil down your drain. Instead, pour it into a container and dump it in the trash when it’s full.

Buy a mesh screen

Mesh screens do wonders for your drain – especially in the tub or shower as it’s excellent at catching hair. If you don’t have a mesh screen, hair and soap scum can create nasty clogs that are a pain to remove.

Mesh screens come in all sorts of sizes, so all you’ve got to do is purchase the one that suits your current drain best. Alternatively, you can also replace the stopper assembly with one that comes with a built-in mesh screen.

Collect food waste

Even if you’ve got a food waste disposal unit, avoid shoving your food waste down the unit as it could cause your drain to clog. It’s a better idea to collect your food waste in a container and place it in a compost pile.

If your city doesn’t collect organic waste for composting, you can build your own compost bin. Don’t put meat or other greasy items in your bin, however, as it’ll take too long of a time to break down.

Be careful of what you flush

Toilets are meant for natural waste and toilet paper, that’s about it. It would be best if you weren’t flushing down personal care items into the toilet as they can get stuck in the drains and cause a clog. If you’re in a rental property, this is something that is usually laid out in the tenancy agreement, so if it happens it usually means a broken toilet falls to the tenant’s responsibility rather than the landlord. Since they don’t decompose easily, they’ll also be an additional burden to the water treatment facility.

Rather than tossing these items into your toilet, place them in the wastepaper basket instead. Not only will it be better for the environment, but it’s also better for your drains.

Flush your drains

If you’ve got a low-flow toilet and faucet in your home, they’re great at saving water but aren’t ideal for keeping your drains clear. Since there’s a lower volume of water, debris won’t be carried away as effectively and can get stuck in your drains.

To resolve this issue, you should occasionally flush your pipes with large amounts of water. Take a bucket, fill it with water, and pour it down your toilet while flushing to help keep your drain line clear. If you have a bathtub, fill it with hot water and release it down the drain to achieve the same effect.

If problems persist

If you end up having a clogged drain in your home, don’t just focus on getting it unclogged. In such instances, it may be a more severe issue such as a partially collapsed pipe. To rectify the issue, you should hire a professional to conduct a more thorough check and see what exactly is causing the problem.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Lincoln real estate market adjusts to new normal of COVID-19

VRLY May 26, 2020 0

The Lincoln real estate market has been humming along for years, setting records for sales volume and sale prices several years running.

That trend appeared to be continuing in the first couple months of the year, until the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.

Like many other businesses that rely on face-to-face interactions, with tasks that can’t be done from home, the local real estate market is feeling the effects of the coronavirus.

“It hasn’t ground to a halt, but it sure has slowed to a crawl,” said Rich Rodenburg, partner and associate broker with Coldwell Banker NHS Real Estate.

According to figures from the Realtors Association of Lincoln, home sales appear to have slowed down over the past couple of weeks.

From March 23-April 8, only 165 homes were put up for sale, compared with 366 new listings in February, the last month for which full stats are available.

During that same period, 201 sales contracts were signed, compared with 330 in February, and 191 sales closed, compared with 257 in February.

One further illustration of the slowdown is a decline in open houses.

Rodenburg said that on March 15, there were 100 open houses scheduled in Lincoln. That was the Sunday after Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln decided to have students stay at home.

This past Sunday, April 5, there were 51 open houses.

Some local real estate firms have stopped doing open houses altogether. Rodenburg said his firm recommended agents no longer hold open houses, and he personally has stopped doing them.

He still does occasional showings by appointment, but he said he is very careful about what he touches and makes sure to sanitize everything.

“I have Purell in one hand and Handi Wipes in the other,” Rodenburg said.

RE/MAX Concepts, another Lincoln firm, announced April 3 that it was temporarily suspending all open houses.

“We feel this decision will not only help protect our Realtors and their clients by lowering the curve,” said Larry Holmes, owner and broker of RE/MAX Concepts, in a news release, “but also will demonstrate our strong support for other businesses who have been forced to make difficult decisions during this time.”

Holmes said RE/MAX agents are continuing to schedule private showings — with protective health measures in place — and virtual tours.

Shannon Harner, president and CEO of Homeservices of Nebraska, which owns Home Real Estate and Woods Bros Realty, said those firms’ agents still are allowed to do open houses, but they also are embracing virtual tours as well.

Interest in virtual home tours has increased quite a bit not only in Lincoln but across the country.

“We’ve seen a huge rush of agents scrambling to find 3D virtual solutions to bring real estate listings to buyers,” said Tyler Irons, co-founder of VRLY, a Lincoln-based company that offers immersive 3D video tours of properties for sale.

“I get emails and calls daily from agents and brokerages alike not only in Nebraska but across the country,” he said, noting that some real estate brokerages are requiring every listing to have a 3D tour.

Irons said VRLY is growing rapidly and has plans to launch services in South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Utah, Massachusetts and in Canada.

It’s not just agents who are seeing coronavirus complications.

Rodenburg said he was working with an elderly couple who wanted to list their house for sale April 1 but decided to put their plans on hold because one of them has heart problems and was worried about potential exposure to the disease through showings.

Rodenburg also said he’s had a couple of buyers put things on hold because of financial concerns.

Coronavirus is also causing headaches for home inspectors and appraisers, Rodenburg said, because sellers are often leery of letting people traipse through their homes.

The good news, said Harner, is that unlike the real estate crash of the late 2000s, the current slowdown is not due to any structural problems with the market.

She noted that in 2008, there were more than 2,000 homes for sale in Lincoln at any given time, and mortgage interest rates hovered around 6%. Now, there are just more than 800 homes for sale in the market, and interest rates are hovering near a 10-year low below 3.5%.

“Today, the foundational framework of our economy is solid,” Harner said. “There is no oversupply in the market or plunging prices; healthy appreciation, slow and steady, has created a balanced and robust market to withstand the financial ramifications of COVID-19.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

Business reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

Virtual Home Tours During Covid-19

VRLY April 25, 2020 0

Virtual Home Tours During Covid-19

We’ve seen a huge rush of Agents scrambling to find 3D virtual solutions to bring real estate listings to Buyers. I get emails and calls daily from Agents and Brokerages alike not only in Nebraska but across the country. We’re seeing more Brokerages across the country require 3D Tours on every listing. kwELITE was the first Brokerage in Nebraska to actually make it a mandatory requirement for every listing. With technology progressing so rapidly it’s been hard for Agents and Brokerages to keep up. The cost of equipment and the backend production to create a final product has made the barrier of entry almost impossible for most agents. COVID-19 has really increased the need for agents to have strategic technology partners like VRLY. We will start to see Brokerages changing to a virtual office model in the future. I believe the real estate industry will come out of the pandemic revolutionized and ultimately add more value to the customers. We will start to see Brokerages changing to a virtual office model in the Future

Tyler Irons CEO/Founder

VRLY is currently launching our services in South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Utah, Massachusetts, Ontario, and Montreal.

How to Sell Your House in 2019

VRLY July 5, 2019 0

So, you have found yourself at that point of selling your house and moving on. Maybe you’re downsizing to a smaller house because the kids have finally left the nest, or you got a job in a new city and need to relocate, or finally, you retired and want to head south to warmer climates. Whatever your reason, you’re ready to sell you home. Luckily for you, we put together a comprehensive guide for first-time and seasoned home sellers. Continue reading to find out how to sell your house this year.


1) Hire a Home Inspector


You’re probably thinking wait, isn’t that what the buyer is going to do? You’re not wrong. When a buyer has made an offer and you’ve accepted it, the buyer will most likely hire a home inspector of their own. So, why would you hire a home inspector? First, if a home inspector turns up something that’s in need of repair, wouldn’t you prefer to resolve it long before entering into negotiations with a potential buyer?


In fact, if you end up needing to make repairs expected to take weeks to fix, you may lose that buyer altogether. Hiring a home inspector is a proactive approach to getting your home ready to sell. Known as a pre-listing home inspection, you can find out the exact condition of your property, what repairs need to be addressed beforehand, fix them, then focus on the next task to get your home sold fast.


Also, knowing the condition of your property will further assist you during the negotiation phase with potential buyers.  As you may already be aware, since you’ve already bought a home yourself, buyers often use their home inspection as a way of getting concessions from sellers, such as asking you to drop your list price. If you’ve already addressed any repairs that turned up in an inspection report, it is less likely that any new repairs will come up and impact your position during negotiations.


2) Make Repairs and Small Upgrades to Your Home


After your inspector makes a comprehensive list of repairs you should make, it’s time to get started either making the repairs yourself or contracting the right person to do them. This is may also be a great time to make small upgrades to your home that will help your house to sell fast. You don’t need to renovate your kitchen or anything, but that red accent wall that was extremely popular a decade ago might need a fresh coat of paint more neutral in color.


Understand Your Homes Selling Points

First, try understanding your home’s selling points and then try to highlight those features to make them really stand out. Not sure what those features are in your home? Just think about what sold you on your home when you first toured it. Was it the kitchen, the open floor plan, or that personal studio space? These are the features you want to concentrate on because they are most likely to sell your home again.


Brighten Your Home

You also want to think about ways to brighten your home and improve your curb appeal. Simple ways to brighten your home is painting your ceilings white and choosing a wall color that is brighter and more neutral. Though you may have enjoyed that accent wall, not everyone has the same taste as yourself. You want to make your house appeal to the largest audience possible to not only sell your home fast but to also invite more offers.


Improve Your Curb Appeal

Furthermore, improving your curb appeal is crucial for future homebuyers. You only make a first impression once, and the curb appeal of your home is the first impression of your home for potential buyers. Though you may not necessarily have to paint the exterior of your house to impress homebuyers, simple things like trimming your hedges, freshly mowed lawn and making sure any exterior lights aren’t burnt out can go a long way. Even freshly laid beauty bark and newly planted flowers can really make your yard pop!


Though this can be a lot of work, you will be happy that you did it because homes often sell faster and for more money when these small upgrades are done. If you don’t want to do all that work yourself, don’t know how to, or just don’t have the time, there are concierge type services that can do it all for you. This way you can focus on moving to your next home.


3) Declutter and Prep Your House to Sell


There’s an expression in real estate, “clutter can cost a sale.” Decluttering and prepping your home is something you want to really focus on. Especially if you’ve lived in your house for five years or more, there is a good chance you’ve collected a lot of stuff. Don’t worry it happens!


Renting storage units are becoming an increasingly popular method to decluttering one’s home before selling it. The idea is to limit the amount of stuff in your house so that potential buyers can envision themselves (and their stuff) in that space. Even removing photos is a great way to allow people touring your home to think about what they would hang on those walls or what they’d place on that fire mantel. Basically, you’re trying to present your house as a canvass from which potential buyers can create the next chapter of their lives.


Furthermore, by eliminating the majority of your stuff in your house earlier you can start deep cleaning your home more easily. And yes, you want to deep clean your home. If you sold your car to someone (not a dealership) you would probably wash it and vacuum the inside of it before you let someone test drive it, right? Well, the same goes for selling your house. You want to present your home in its best possible light so that it sells fast and you get competing offers.


Also, don’t just focus on deep cleaning just the inside of your home. You can use a pro wash to clean the outside of your home as well. These products typically attached to your garden hose and then you just spray your house down. It’s kind of like washing your car, just without the scrubbing.


4) Find a Real Estate Agent


Finding a real estate agent is easy, finding a great real estate agent can be more of a challenge. Getting referrals and reading online reviews is a great way to start narrowing down your options, and hopefully, you’ll end up with a couple of good potential candidates to interview.


You’ll want to understand what you’re looking for when hiring a real estate agent to represent your best interests. Here are some questions to consider asking any potential candidate:


  • How many clients have you served this year?
  • Has a client ever filed a complaint against you?
  • What is your fee? (3% commission is beginning to be replaced by 1% – 1.5% in many areas)
  • What services do you offer beyond negotiations and escrow?


These are just a few questions to consider asking while interviewing real estate agents. A more comprehensive list of interview questions can be found here.


After you decide on a real estate agent, you and your agent should come up with a plan of action. This plan should include a timeline, from the pricing of your home and getting it listed on MLS to open houses. It should also include when a price reduction strategy needs to take effect to get your home sold. You and your agent should be on the same page at all times and a plan of action will help ensure that.


5) Price Your Home to Sell


Now is the time to find out what price you should list your home! You can start by using online tools to help you get an idea of what your home is currently worth. This is a great starting point to get an idea of your home’s worth, but you should never set your sights on a single number and expect it to happen. Market conditions change all the time and so too does buyer behavior. Being open-minded about pricing your home as well as adjusting price is key to get your home sold.


Another option that many homeowners do to get a list price for their home is to hire a home appraiser. Home appraisers are licensed professionals that will assess the value of your house based on the state of your property and overall housing market conditions. They will look at the size of your property, the interior and exterior conditions of your house, any upgrades, additions or home improvements you’ve done, and then calculate your home’s worth based on the local market conditions.


Looking at comparables of recently sold homes in your area will also help you settle on a price with your real estate agent. These homes should be similar in size, location, and sold within the last few months. Anything outside of those parameters would not be considered true comparables and could give you false information for pricing your home.


Furthermore, you want to be strategic about your pricing. You want your house to sell fast while being competitive for current market conditions. Instead of lumping the price of your house in with others in the area, strategize your pricing based on your home’s selling features. In other words, if there are three houses for sale in the same area as your own and priced at $350,000, you might be able to justify $360,000 or more because you have a larger lot size or maybe you’re located in a popular neighborhood.


6) Get Professional Photos Taken of Your Home


Nothing sells a home faster than professional photos. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They are searching online, looking at every home that comes up for sale within their filtered interests the moment it’s listed. If your house is being represented online by poorly shot photography, your listing will see very little traffic. Not to mention, it has been widely observed that listing your house with professionally shot photos, on average, sell for more money than other listings.


Furthermore, 3D walking tours along with aerial photography that show a bird’s eye view of one’s home and its surrounding area have become increasingly popular with buyers looking online. Many agencies include some or all of these services as a component of their overall services to you as a seller. However, you should ask while interviewing your real estate agent what services are provided, so you don’t find yourself paying out of pocket later. Just remember, the better you represent your house online, the faster it will sell.


7) List Your Home to Sell


Your real estate agent will get your home listed online on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), in order to l start showing up on real estate search platforms to potential buyers.


You may be wondering when is the best time to list your home? If you’re thinking about waiting for a specific season, then you might be waiting for nothing. In 2016, Redfin analyzed more than 7 million home sales to identify specific seasonal trends in homes being sold. What was determined was that though spring was slightly better for homes that sold within 30 days and for above asking price, winter was surprisingly a close second. What plays a bigger role in a house being sold quickly and/or above asking price has more to do with current market conditions than the season a house is sold.


Also, don’t limit the marketing of your house to your real estate agent and online search. Market your house yourself! Spread the word through your family and friends, share your listing on social media, send out emails asking people to share your listing with others, and even advertising with online ads are ways of getting your house in front of more people and increase the chance of selling your home faster.


8) Have Open Houses and Personal Showings


Your first open house is what you’ve been working towards and now it’s about to happen. It’s time to step up your game and stage your home to sell. Here is a list of things to consider that will really help you make your house shine:


  • Clear the clutter: You may have already transferred most of your belongings to a storage unit by now. Focus on just cleaning up the clutter that gets left out on countertops and tables. Put away newspapers, mail or magazines, or if you have children help them pick up their toys.
  • Deep clean your house: Nothing turns off a buyer more than an unclean bathroom. That could also be said about the rest of your house. Now more than ever is that time to wash your windows, window sills, and scrub your grimy glass shower doors.
  • Add white accents: White accents such as flowers or towels in the bathroom create a sense of welcome cleanliness.
  • Arrange furniture: You don’t have to necessarily rent furniture to stage your home. You can most likely use what you have. The key is to limit the number of furniture pieces in any one room and then arrange them in a way that’s inviting to people as they enter the room.
  • Bring in light: Think about removing your curtains or keeping them drawn back to allow as much light into your house as possible. If you have rather large elaborate curtains, consider storing them away until you get to your next home.
  • Showcase your floors: Floors are key feature homebuyers are looking at, especially if you have wood floors. Show them off by removing any rugs or unneeded furniture so that more of your flooring can be seen. If you have wood floors, think about getting them polished to really make them pop!
  • Create a welcoming ambiance: You may have heard about that old trick of lighting a candle that smells like freshly baked cookies? Well, it’s not wrong, but a single candle might not do the trick. Focus on reducing odors in your home. If you have a mudroom, or a cat or dog, use a neutralizing spray for a few days before an open house to limit any odors that you may not actually realize are there.
  • Organize all closets and drawers: Homebuyers touring your home will most likely look in your closets to determine space and, frankly, to see if their stuff will fit in there. Also, they will likely open kitchen drawers and cabinets as well, so make sure everything is nice and tidy.
  • Dust: Concentrate on all the areas that you’ve most likely have turned a blind eye to for some time, like ceiling fans, baseboards, on top of doorways, appliances, etc.
  • Make your entrance inviting: If the exterior of your house has outdated light fixtures or worn out address numbers, consider replacing them along with your welcome mat. A new mat is always inviting to people touring your home.
  • Secure your valuables: If you didn’t already store your valuables away in the storage unit you rented, you’ll want to make sure that these are not kept in plain sight. In fact, if you have a safe of some kind, that would be a perfect place to store your valuables while open houses and home tours are taking place.


Unlike open houses that are planned in advance, personal showings can happen at any point during the home selling process. The key is to be flexible and maintain your home’s cleanliness to make it easier on yourself in case of unexpected tours that may just pop up at moment’s notice. You want to make a great first impression every time!


10) Have a Plan in Case Your Home Doesn’t Sell Quick Enough


You and your real estate agent should have already gone over this beforehand, but not every house sells after the first open house. There are many factors at play and depending on the condition of the housing market for your area, your real estate agent may have to use some other strategies in their arsenal to get your house sold.


If it’s lowering the price of your home or holding more open houses, you’ll want to agree on what the next steps should be in case your house isn’t seeing any offers.


11) Negotiate the Selling Price of Your Home


One thing to consider is that the buyer is trying to get the absolute best price they can, while you’re doing the exact same. There will be multiple factors to consider as each home sold and purchased is different. For example, if it’s a buyer’s market that means the buyer has the upper hand because there are multiple listings with fewer offers being made. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make huge concessions in order to sell your home.


This is where your agent really steps up. They will help you navigate the negotiation process, and will give you their advice on how to proceed when offers are being made. Luckily, you interviewed and hired the right agent, so you know they have your best interests in mind. There are several factors and tactics to consider when entering this phase. Your agent will help you every step of the way as you navigate through the negotiation process.


You most likely have made many great memories in your home. Your children may have grown up in your house and marks of their heights years past still scar the wall near the kitchen. It’s difficult, but try to separate yourself – emotionally – from your house. Whatever your memories may be, just remember they are not lost, but they also have no place in negotiations. Try to remain objective during this process and rely on your real estate agent for advice and how to proceed.


12) Sign and Close


This is the moment you and your agent have been working towards. You’ve agreed on a price with the buyers, any and all inspections and appraisals of your home have been completed, and you are now signing the papers to sell your house. Congratulations, you’ve done it!


Source: Redfin