Category Archives: property management

John Scarpaci of Thayer & Associates Awarded Community Associations Manager of the Year

John Scarpaci of Thayer & Associates Awarded Community Associations Manager of the Year

We are proud to announce that John Scarpaci, one of the property managers here at Thayer & Associates, has been awarded Community Associations Manager of the Year by the Community Associations Institute (CAI) New England Chapter.

Meet John Scarpaci – Property Manager with Thayer & Associates

John Scarpaci began his career in property management in the early 90s. Since then, John has developed a passion for serving the community under his care. With property management, John is happy with his ability to get outside and stay directly involved with all aspects of the property and the community within.

“I started [my career] around the Tufts University area,” John explained. “I more or less handled rentals for college kids. It was a bunch of three-story buildings all around Tufts University. I like to be outside and involved.”

John’s Current Property – Bishop Forest Condominiums in Waltham, MA

Currently, John is on the ground performing his property management duties for the Bishop Forest Condominiums in Waltham, MA. The property is made up of 216 townhouse units across 70-acres of developed land.

There, John has served the community, the property, and the condo board of trustees diligently. John works with all parties involved to ensure streamlined communication, property upkeep, and to ensure that the community receives the best possible services.

For example, John worked closely with local government officials and the condo board to bring free trash pickup to the Bishop Forest Condominiums. This isn’t a benefit typically offered for condominiums in Massachusetts. But through consistent and respectful communication efforts, John was able to make it happen – greatly benefiting his community.

How Does John Represent Thayer & Associates Property Management?

For anyone who speaks with John, it’s apparent that property management is a true passion. Scarpaci leverages his professional expertise alongside his discussions with property stakeholders to come to solutions that work best for everyone involved. John goes above and beyond wherever he can to ensure positive outcomes.

For this reason, it’s clear to see why John Scarpaci was selected as Community Associations Manager of the Year. 

What Is The Community Associations Institute?

According to the Community Associations Institute New England Chapter:

“Community Associations Institute (CAI) and the New England Chapter (CAI-NE) have been the leaders in providing proven education and resources for community associations in the chapter states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.”

What Is The Community Associations Manager of the Year Award?

Each year, the CAI-NE awards a special recognition for a property manager that goes above and beyond for their managed properties. This year, John Scarpaci was nominated and recognized as Community Associations Manager of the Year by his peers.

Upon finding out about this special recognition, John explains that he was “shocked at first” and honored by all the kind words and write-ups that he has received so far.

“I’ve been working property management all these years, “ John explained, “and you think, wow, someone’s really going to say ‘hey John, thank you. Thank you for what you’ve done.’ – It really means a lot – [someone saying] ‘you didn’t have to. You could have gone home.’ But it all paid off. Achieving property manager of the year is incredible.”

We agree, John. It’s well deserved! Thank you for being part of our team here at Thayer & Associates, Inc and for everything you do daily.

The CAI-NE will formally announce John as the Community Associations Manager of the Year at the annual chapter dinner and awards night on Thursday, May 19th, at the Westin Hotel Waltham.

monopoly board

Prioritizing Maintenance Requests 

Maintenance requests come in all shapes and sizes, from burst pipes to refreshing exterior painting and everything in between. Experienced facilities managers know that not all maintenance requests are created equal. 

All work orders need to be prioritized in order to know what order to complete each request. Knowing how to prioritize comes from years of experience and knowing that some tasks need immediate attention while others can wait. Either way, regular maintenance is meant to keep your tenants safe, the property protected, and ultimately to keep your tenants happy.

While tenants may feel as though every request deserves the highest priority, it is important for the safety of the property and the people living there to rank work orders or requests. 

Most maintenance requests can be categorized into levels of priorities such as: emergency, high priority, medium priority, low priority, and regularly scheduled maintenance. 

Emergency Prioritization 

Most urgent or emergency tasks are fairly obvious in nature. For instance if your building is on fire, has a flooding issue, a gas leak or safety issue, then all other requests should be put on hold until the property is safe and properly cared for. 

Other emergency events such as the following could also fall into this category. 

  • Exposed power lines
  • Total power loss
  • Act of nature such as a tree on the structure or loss of functions such as heat, electricity or plumbing
  • Loss of water to entire building or flood/overflowing plumbing
  • Power or a/c loss in the server rooms
  • People stuck in elevator

Not only can these events pose a danger to the people living there, but they can be financially crippling. It is always a good idea to have a list of vendors that can quickly respond in an emergency situation. 

kitchen fire High Priority

This level of priority translates into tasks that need to be completed in a timely manner or they will become larger and more unruly as time passes. Examples of these types of requests could be: minor leaks, pest infestations, broken appliances, or locks in need of repair. 

Promptly addressing these tasks will ensure that the property remains safe, habitable, and will potentially decrease financial loss. 

Medium Priority

Medium priority tasks may not seem a medium level to your tenants as they may not see the larger picture of tasks on your “To Do” list. However, these tasks are important, but not as important as an urgent situation. 

These tasks may include seasonal maintenance tasks such as debris and bush removal for fire prevention, slip prevention in the fall and winter, and other issues that could pose a risk in the near future. While each of these are time sensitive, but not urgent. 

Low Priority 

Lower priority tasks often fall into regularly scheduled maintenance that can wait until the proper time of year. These include: gutter cleaning, exterior painting, capital repairs, landscaping, and aesthetic changes. 

Communicating these levels of priority may help members of your community understand why some tasks take precedent while others must wait a bit longer to be addressed. Drop us a comment on your methods of prioritizing maintenance requests. 

 

conflict resolution methods

Handling Conflict Resolution in Apartment Complexes 

Disagreements between neighbors living in close quarters, such as apartment complexes, are a common issue and should be handled with care by the landlord, homeowners association, or property management company.  

While it is fairly natural for neighbors to have occasional conflicts over minor things like excessive noise at an inconvenient time, or parking spots during the snowy months, the main goal of those in charge of the complex or community should be to manage the issue before it becomes contentious enough to cause legal action. 

Here are a few ways to help handle conflict resolution and create a more harmonious living community for you and your homeowners. 

dogs barking

What Are the Most Common Issues? 

When living in high density apartments, there are some issues that come up over and over again. Two of the most prevalent issues include noises and smells. 

The issue with noises in apartment complexes could include stereos that are too loud, crying babies, loud footsteps in the apartments above, barking or active pets, or the occasional party. These issues are often solved by a friendly reminder about being courteous to neighbors or regarding the rules about quiet hours.

The second most common issue that landlords often receive complaints about are smells. These malodorous issues usually can be placed in two categories: cooking smells and smoking smells. Smells from a neighbor’s kitchen can sometimes be a welcome aroma during mealtime, or the excessive smell of garlic may turn other’s noses. 

Then, there is the ongoing issue of smoking in areas where cigars, vapes, and cigarettes are prohibited. With state legislation determining where smoking can occur, many neighbors find themselves in a conflict over the presence of smoking odors. 

paperwork

Managing Conflict 

Knowing the most common issues that can stir up conflict is one thing, but knowing how to handle the festering issue is an entirely different one. 

There are several ways property managers can help de-escalate warring neighbors. One of the first things is to listen to each party’s version of the issue. Allowing each person to meet with you separately can give a much needed background to the situation. 

Once each person’s version of the incident or situation is heard, it is a good idea to review the community rules that may make for an easy resolution. For example, if there is no smoking at the poolside, remind all residents of that rule and ask that these guidelines are followed. 

If the situation can be simply solved with a review of the community bylaws or rules, that would be great, however, more often than not, both homeowners may need to meet to resolve lingering animosity. This step in the process comes with the thought that by bringing both parties together that they may be able to hear the rules together so there is no confusion as well as what the consequences are if the rules are not followed. 

If Things Get Ugly 

Avoiding escalation between neighbors is the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, de-escalation is not always possible and a mediator (or the courts) may need to get involved. In cases like this it is best to let the legal teams handle the issue and remain an interested third party. 

Drop us a note of how your apartment complex dispute was successfully resolved. 

 

handing over the keys

How to Find & Keep Quality Tenants 

One of the best ways for property managers or landlords to protect their investment property is to find quality tenants who will care for the unit and the property, pay their rent on time, and remain in the unit for a considerable length of time. 

It may be tempting to rent your units as quickly as possible to avoid vacant units or apartments, but spending the time to find quality tenants can pay off in the long run. Finding qualified and quality tenants can save time, money, and potential headaches years into the future. 

home or rental key

Top Landlord Concerns 

When it comes to finding quality tenants, there are several criteria that any property manager or landlord will be looking for including: prompt payments, prior eviction history, criminal history, tendency to move constantly, inaccurate or fraudulent information on application, and whether they are a high maintenance tenant. 

Most of these concerns can be identified through a background and credit check but there are some that we must all rely on a little bit of experience with tenants and a sprinkle of intuition. 

In a SmartMove user survey, property owners expressed some clear concerns about bringing on new tenants. Their top concern was, by-far, problems paying bills on time. While this may be your top concern as well, know that checking a tenant’s credit is one way to alleviate major concerns.

What Is A Good Tenant? 

Now that we understand the concerns of property management companies prior to renting a unit, it’s also a good time to set out your criteria of what makes a good tenant in your eyes. 

Some of the major factors that you may be looking for, especially if you are like many companies who are looking for a financially stable renter is to ask these questions: 

  • Does the candidate have a steady income? 
  • How long have they had this particular job? (Looking for longevity.) 
  • What does the candidate’s credit score show about their ability to pay bills on time? 

There are aspects that you will want to research or discover during the application or interview process. These may include: how long they have lived in their current place, why they are moving, or whether they are aware of property guidelines like rules about parking, pets, or guests. 

During the application process you will also be able to learn a little about the person’s character and temperament, which may come in handy if issues arise later.

credit card

Steps to Find & Keep A Good Tenant 

Now that you understand the top concerns of landlords and some key criteria to be on the lookout for with your tenants, you need to know how to find these types of renters. Here are a few places to consider. 

Step 1 List Your Rental Property

Depending upon your location, you may want to list your property units in distinct locations, such as business listings if you are hoping for young professionals or online websites that can help you cast a wide net of candidates. Be careful of your listing locations. If you place an ad in a college paper, you’ll likely be renting to college age tenants. 

Step 2 Do Your Research

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to conduct thorough background checks including any eviction history, criminal history, and a complete credit check. 

Step 3 Look For References 

As your tenant candidate for references from employers, past landlords, and other relevant people so you can get a better sense of what the tenant will be like once they move in. 

 

condo livingroom

Prepping Your Rental for a Smooth Turnover 

As property managers, we are very familiar with the rental turnover cycle. Tenants move in; tenants move out. It is a part of life and there is some sense of both chaos and harmony knowing that the cycle continues on. 

If you have yet to start working with a property management company, you may find yourself dealing with all the details involved with a tenant turnover on your own. If so, we have some tips that may help you make the transition go more smoothly or you may choose to use our services here at Thayer & Associates. 

There are things that a landlord or property management company should do both before the former tenant moves out and before the current tenant moves in. Read on for some ideas to make this as stress-free as possible.

apartment bedroom

Before Your Tenant Moves Out 

As part of your responsibility as a landlord, “It’s your legal responsibility to provide a comfortable, healthy and safe living environment to your tenants, which often entails performing some essential repairs and upgrades,” according to Rentec Direct online

This may mean cleaning the rental unit, making repairs, and ensuring that the unit is safe for the next tenant. You may also want to make upgrades that could increase the value of your rental and attract reliable tenants for future years. 

Conduct a Walkthrough 

As soon as your tenant puts in their notice that they will be moving, you should schedule an informal walkthrough with them to discuss issues such as cleaning that may fall under tenant responsibilities, as well as maintenance, repairs, updates, and landscaping issues that would be in the landlord’s domain. 

Make a list of all that should be done prior to a new tenant moving in and prioritize each task. 

Schedule Professional Services 

Depending upon the condition of the unit and how much work/improvements you may want to complete, scheduling professional services such as a cleaning crew, plumber, electrician, or general contractor should be done well in advance so you can have the work done in a timely manner. 

Establish Move Out Guidelines 

Before your tenant moves out, be sure to give clear guidelines about what the apartment or unit should look like upon handing over the keys. For instance, many property managers require a clean apartment including the stove, refrigerator, and bathrooms. Without the area being free and clean of any leftover property or belongings, landlords often stipulate the loss of the security deposit. 

Another scenario to consider is if walls have been painted or more permanent changes have been made, with or without your consent, be sure to stipulate what should be done to prepare the unit for the next tenant. 

man moving boxes

After Moving Day 

Once your tenant has moved, there are a flurry of tasks that should be completed by the manager, landlord, or company responsible for the property. 

First, the locks should be changed by a professional to ensure that a fresh set of keys will be given for a secure unit. 

From there, many property managers spend a few days painting, cleaning, and repairing any areas that need it. Updates to areas like the kitchen and bathrooms could be done during this window when the unit is not occupied. 

If there are carpenters, windows, or appliances that need cleaning this is the time to get that done as well. 

Tenant turnover is inevitable, but having a sound plan prepared in advance can help make the transition go smoothly. Tell us your transition suggestions below or on our social media pages. If you are in need of tenant turnover help, whether it is marketing or completing the tasks needed to rent out your property, talk to our team about using our services here at Thayer & Associates. 

 

rental keys

Features New Renters Want in 2022 

Rent has been rising at an alarming rate all over the country throughout 2021 and is expected to continue in this trend in the new year, according to a November 2021 Zumper National Rent Report. This study puts median rental prices for the Boston, Massachusetts area at $2470, which ranks as the third highest in the country behind New York City and SanFrancisco, CA. 

Rising rental rates come with some expectations on the part of renters and unit owners. New renters want to see some features and amenities that can offset or at least incentivize them to choose one rental location over another. 

With these things in mind, today’s blog will be examining some of the rental property features, amenities, and trends that renters are coming to expect in the new year. 

texting communication

Online Payments and Requests

We live in a digital age and renters have come to expect that their dealings with their home should also be convenient and easy. Millennials and other generations want to be able to do many things online such as: pay rent, request in-unit repairs, and chat with management when questions arise. 

We recently published a blog that expounded the many Benefits of Association Software as a way to meet the needs of a new generation of renters. This online software can increase communications with renters, improve security, and streamline data for both your unit owners and management group. 

swimming pool

Property Improvements 

With increased rental rates, renters have come to expect that properties will continue improvements such as bonus spaces including pools, fitness rooms, laundry facilities, and terrace areas for urban locations. 

With millions of millennials in the rental market, Butterfly MX recently reported that 86% of millennial renters are “willing to pay more for a multi-family home or apartment and are willing to pay more for a “smart” apartment, compared to 65% of boomers who would request the same.” 

Obviously each property will have only so much space to expand and make improvements, but renters want to see that not only are repairs being maintained regularly, but that amenities are being added to offset the rate increases. 

The Need For Parking Spaces Is Disappearing 

In decades past, a trend that would have made this list of wants by renters would be a parking space. The dawn of ridesharing and other mass transit options has moved parking spots from high on the list of wants to a lower category. 

What are your list of top features of amenities wanted by newer renters? Drop us a comment below or check us out on our Facebook page. 

 

calendar

Ringing In The New Year With Tenant Reminders 

The turning of the calendar to a new month and new year is symbolic of a fresh start, a clean slate, if you will. Take advantage of this new beginning as a time to refresh and remind your tenants or community members of the services your team offers as well as a gentle reminder of community guidelines. 

software on a laptop

Software Updates 

Many property management providers and landlords offer online payments and software to make putting in repair requests or comments easy to manage. 

If your community is starting to utilize a new software program or wants to encourage more tenants to use your current one, the new year is a great time to remind them of the advantages of such software. 

For instance, paying rent or HOA dues can be infinitely easier and timely if it is scheduled on a software application. Many of them even have mobile apps to make things even easier to pay or make a request on-the-go. 

remember graphics

Changes in Lease or Laws 

The new year is an excellent time to send out a community or building-wide newsletter informing the people who live in your community any changes to Massachusetts state laws regarding leasing, tenancy-at will or payment requirements. 

An easy to access document can be read and referred to throughout the year as changes are made to any state laws or local leasing agreements. 

This is also a good time to let your tenants or community members know if there will be any increases in fees or leasing agreements. Allowing residents a chance to budget well in advance is a smart way to prepare them for any increases. 

Maintenance Schedules or Landscaping Timelines 

As the winter settles in, the turning of the calendar is an appropriate time to remind the residents in your community of any major maintenance that is scheduled. 

For instance, if this summer is the time you plan on installing a new roof or making upgrades to the amenities, you will want to give your tenants a heads up so they can plan accordingly. 

Giving a landscape timeline is also a good idea for kicking off the new year. If you have a new landscaping company or plan to start spring clean ups at a certain time, you can inform your community at this time. 

Reminders of Rights 

Tenants have certain rights (as well as responsibilities) that fall on their shoulders. Provide resources on a regular basis that allows your community members to read about their rights and understand them fully. The Mass.gov site has a full library of tenant rights articles that could be helpful. 

As responsible property managers or landlords, what are you doing to help provide resources and information this New Years to your tenants and community members? 

 

walkway with landscaping

Fall Landscaping to Prep for Winter 

The work of a property management company is never really done. There are tasks to be completed during every season. Fall is no exception to that rule. In fact, this time of year is critical to ensuring that steps are taken to prepare the landscaping including the lawn, walkways, and driveways for the onslaught of a typical New England winter. 

Responsive and proactive property management companies know that there are many tasks that should be completed during this time of year to ensure that residents and visitors alike will remain safe and that the landscaping will flourish in the coming year. 

Here are a few of those steps that your management team may want to consider. 

gazebo and green grass

Landscaping 

While the growing season may be almost done, there is still much to do to ready the grass, shrubs, and trees for the winter season. 

We all know that winter can be fairly wild here in Massachusetts but if you take the right care of your landscaping you will find the winter more bearable and the spring to reap rewards of your fall efforts. 

  • Rake all leaves and remove them from the property. This will help the grass breathe and stop leaves from becoming slipping issues along your walkways and driveways. 
  • Aerate grass and apply the last fertilizer. 
  • Cut grass for the final time during the season. 

In order to protect your shrubbery and ornamental plants from the cold and snow build-up our region can experience, you may want to take further steps. 

  • Prune trees to ensure spring flowering will occur. 
  • Trim dead or broken branches so they won’t fall during winter storms. 
  • Protect shrubbery against winter water loss by protecting it in a layer of mulch. 
  • Wrap tender plantings in burlap or by building an A frame wooden protection system around bushes that are open to heavy snow. 
  • Minimize salt damage by having an area to shovel or plow snow that will not impact plantings. 

pavers in circle

Hardscaping 

Non-organic aspects of your landscaping such as the walkways, stone walls, and driveways will need upkeep during the fall months as well. 

Make sure you have removed all leaves and debris after the majority of foliage has fallen. This will save you time and effort in the spring and keep your walkways and driveways safe for your residents to walk. 

Provide driveways guides for your snow plow operators to visually see the edges to stop damage to sidewalks and landscape areas. 

Place salt containers in easily accessible areas so residents can use them if their cars become stuck on ice or snow. This will also make it easier for your shovel crew to salt after each storm. 

Prep now so that your New England winter will go smoothly no matter what Mother Nature sends our way. 

 

condo building

Filling Rental Vacancies Fast 

As a side effect of the pandemic, many rental properties have remained vacant for longer than usual. Whether it is due to college and universities going remote, so students no longer need their rental, or a major shift to suburban living overcrowded city life, apartments that are usually a hot commodity have slowed down in rental allure. Thus, filling rental vacancies has become a pivotal part of property management responsibilities. 

Here are a few ideas that may help landlords quickly fill vacancies that may occur over the course of the year. 

Keep Your Listings Current on Your Website

According to RentTec Direct, “72% of renters use the Internet when looking for a new apartment according to a study conducted by Apartments.com and Google which evaluated the top avenue renters use to find their next rental property.”

If you are not keeping your vacancies up-to-date on your site, you may be missing a large portion of renters that find their next apartment online. 

Evaluate Your Pricing 

Your future renters will be doing their homework and shopping around to see which spaces include utilities, which do not, and which ones may offer some sort of amenities such as a yard or outdoor entertaining space. 

Be sure to examine what the market is telling you your rent should be according to current situations. Once you have examined you can easily justify why the rent is set at a certain amount. 

condo pool

Utilize Professional Cleaners 

Apartments that have been professionally cleaned, including the kitchen and bathrooms, appear better to potential renters. If you hire a cleaning crew you will not only save yourself some time and elbow grease, but also make your property look more appealing to those hoping to rent. 

Keep in mind that renters check out every corner of the unit before they sign on the dotted line. By contracting this chore out, you will be maintaining your reputation for having spotless units as well as having renters find the unit above reproach. 

Consider Perks 

If you want to fill your rental quickly with quality renters, consider some perks. 

Offer your current renters (or outgoing renters) referral awards to entice word-of-mouth recommendations. There is nothing better than finding a renter through a referral from someone who has been a quality tenant for years! 

home or rental key

Advertise Immediately

If you do not have a referral program, you should try to advertise a vacancy immediately upon getting notice from the tenants. 

Most rental units come with a requirement of giving 30 days’ notice to the landlord before moving out. Act immediately upon getting the notice to advertise the unit so that there will not be a vacancy the next month. Every time that unit sits empty you are losing income from that space. 

Follow our blogs for more ideas on how to keep your properties well run and efficient now and going forward. 

 

1558 Mass ave Cambridge

Announcing Permanent Financing for 1558 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 

The New England Real Estate Journal (NEREJ), a commercial real estate industry leader, announced this summer permanent financing for the 31-unit apartment house located at 1558 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Commercial Mortgage Bankers, Fantini & Gorga, located in the Greater Boston region arranged $5.264 million in permanent financing for the quintessential brick building in one of Boston’s most sought-after locations. 

Harvard Square

Classic Harvard Square Location 

Positioned near Harvard University’s campus and directly across from Harvard Law School, the property possesses the classic red brick building feel of historic Harvard Square along with the ease and convenience to local shops and restaurants that stretch from Harvard Square to Porter Square. Just a short walk allows access to unique dining or entertainment opportunities as well as ease of commute to major corporations located in Boston and the surrounding communities.

Originally constructed in the heyday of the 1920’s, the building has some remarkably desirable features such as fireplaces, traditional dining rooms, and original pantries in some of the units. Each feature can become a coveted focal point aesthetically and a talking point for the notable charm of the building.

On the exterior, the five-story building is not only surrounded by grand historic homes in the New England style, but also includes a landscaped courtyard that adds to the beauty of the brick and decorative cast stone exterior. 

Fantini & GorgaFinancing & Property Management 

Buildings with this type of historical significance and location do not come along every day. The financing for this classic property came from an FHA-insured loan placed through Fantini & Gorga correspondent lender, Eastern Mortgage Capital. 

Tim O’Donnell, Principal at Fantini & Gorga, noted that, “We were delighted to be able to structure 35-year fixed-rate financing for this asset, locking in today’s incredibly low rate for the next generation. As always, our correspondent, Eastern Mortgage Capital, underwrote and closed this loan using their unparalleled expertise in the FHA financing field.”

Thayer & Associates, Inc. was proud to play a role in this acquisition of this gorgeous property. Tracey Ficociello, the Property Manager at that time, was the direct interface along with the Property Accountant, David Cores. Together they assisted in completing any requests for information, data gathering, property inspections, and any other tasks the lender required to approve and complete the refinance.

We look forward to many years of delighting in the property at 1558 Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Congratulations to the team at Fantini & Gorga, Eastern Mortgage Capital, and our own team members who were integral in securing financing for this property.