JG Real estate is pleased to announce that it will be offering a pre-licensure real estate Read more →
JG Real estate is pleased to announce that it will be offering a pre-licensure real estate eduction scholarship for one qualified individual. Included is full tuition for both courses required by the State Real Estate Commission to qualify to become a PA Real Estate Salesperson – “Real Estate Fundamentals” and “Real Estate Practice”, along with the required textbook.
The ideal candidate will have a passion for real estate and seek to start work as an agent within three months of passing both classes, either in a part time or full time capacity.
The fine print:
- This real estate scholarship is only intended for applicants which will go to an approved Pennsylvania real estate eduction provider, and wish to be licensed in the State of Pennsylvania. JGRE reserves the right to select which school the applicant will attend.
- Upon passing classes, applicant must sit for the state and national real estate exams within 60 days.
- JGRE reserves the right to reject any applicant, for any reason.
- Applicant must be a US Citizen.
- The deadline for all applications to be received is 5/1/13. An applicant may be approved prior to that time, and applications will still be accepted after the deadline, for future scholarship opportunities.
JG Real Estate is a full service real estate brokerage and Philadelphia Property Management Company. Visit us by clicking here.
Choosing the right policy to properly protect your property is an important and often daunting task. As a property manager, I contractually require my management clients to carry adequate insurance, and to also name JG Real Estate as additional insured. Many of my clients are homeowners turned landlords, which have a standard owner occupied policy. Some understand that they need to transition over to a landlord’s insurance policy, while others are naive. It’s important to have the correct policy in place for a few different reasons, as explained below:
- Depending on the terms of your owner occupied policy, the moment you rent the house out, it might be voided. If you move out of the property and continue trying to rent it out (without having successfully located a renter) you might be up against a separate issue. Most policies are rendered ineffective if the subject is vacant for than X amount of days (check your policy for the specific time frame). This is where vacant property insurance comes in, which does just that; insures vacant properties because standard polices refuse to.
- Loss of rents – What happens if your property, due to a loss which is covered under the policy, is no longer habitable, and therefore cannot be rented to tenants? A standard homeowner’s policy is not going to cover the rental income you have lost. Whether you are an accidental landlord, or it’s your primary business- you ARE running a business and it should be treated as such. The coverage is usually not dollar for dollar, but rather a reimbursement formula based on net losses.
- Cost differential – For obvious reasons, a landlord’s insurance policy with similar coverage amounts, deductibles, etc. is going to come at a higher cost. Why? To start with, the level of diligence displayed by renters vs. homeowners. As a professional property manager, I’ve come across a variety of mind boggling circumstances, related to tenant negligence. In one instance, a tenant did not report a leak which caused massive damage, for over seven days. So, for seven days there was a huge ongoing plumbing issue (the water service coming into the house ruptured & was spraying all over the place) which was never brought to my attention, and the damage continued to pile on. If the roles were reversed, and this was a homeowner experiencing damage to his own dwelling, I am sure a call would have been made to a plumber within minutes of discovering the issue. Landlord policy premiums in my experience are 10-20% higher than their counter-parts, because overall they propose a greater risk to the insurance company. Some might say that this is a good reason to NOT switch policy types, but in my opinion the modest savings (maybe $100-$200 on a typical Philadelphia row home policy) is not worth what you’d be sacrificing.
Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that it’s important to switch over to the appropriate policy type once your home is converted to a rental property, what riders are important to get?
- Vandalism – In Philadelphia, this is a must have in my opinion. I have experience with a vandalism related issue causing a lot of destruction to a home that I personally own. In my case, a thief stealthily climbed up on my roof and chopped out a copper drain-box (presumably to scrap it for literally a few dollars). While replacing the drain-box itself was not a big deal, a couple hundred dollar repair, the bigger problem was that it rained that same evening the vandalism had occurred. With a now gaping hole in the corner of my roof,it was easy for all runoff water to find its way directly into the home. In all, due to the vandal’s actions, a few thousand dollars of damage was done between ripping down the ceilings in a few rooms, installing new drywall, painting, and replacing a couple of light fixtures. Guess what? None of the damage was covered due to the fact that I didn’t have a vandalism rider. On a side note, be wary of public adjusters – some are great, but others are awful. I had hired an adjuster who advised me to file the claim, not even realizing that I didn’t have a vandalism rider; because he never even read the policy.
- Rent Guarantee: This can be offered either as a policy in itself, or as a rider with select insurance companies. It’s a new offering in the United States, although fairly common in the UK. Basically, if a tenant is not able to pay rent due to financial difficulties, you’re covered if you have one of these policies. The cost seems to be equal to approximately one month’s rent. I’ve never used one of these policies, or suggested them to my clients, but that’s not to say that in some circumstances they wouldn’t be a good idea. Part of what I offer to my clients is great due diligence on the front end, meaning that we thoroughly screen tenants by checking prior landlord references, pulling credit reports & eviction screens, and verifying income. This weeds out the overwhelming majority of people who might cause a problem down the road, however with all the screening in the world, you’ll still eventually run across a deadbeat tenant. So, you as a landlord need to evaluate this on a risk versus reward level, just like the insurance companies do. Think about it, the only way an insurance company stays in business is by being profitable. Revenues must exceed expenses. So, they’re making an educated bet that the premiums they collect are going to be more than the claims they pay out. You should do the same thing when deciding to purchase a policy; what’s the likelihood that you’ll need to take advantage of this policy? You know your property and the tenant much better than the insurance company does – do you think you’re going to need to evict them? When qualifying a tenant, if you’re uneasy, another strategy would be to have THEM pay for this additional coverage. Of course you probably want to avoid telling the tenant that this policy is in place, as it may translate to a free-ride in the tenant’s mind. Maybe you could have them pay for first, last, 2nd to last month’s rent, and security deposit upfront, rather than the standard first ,last, and security. With that additional month upfront, you could potentially buy this policy for additional protection without coming out pocket.
Of course, as a Philadelphia property manager, I offer advice & guidance to my clients whenever they need it. If you are a current JG Real Estate client, or interested in our services, and would like some more information about insurance please do not hesitate to contact Jared Gruber by emailing Jared@JG-RealEstate.com.
Attention Philadelphians, the business privilege license which you’ve come to know and love (or hate) has been renamed! All business owners in the city are required to have the business privilege license AKA Commercial activity license, which quite literally gives an individual the privilege to conduct business in the City of Philadelphia.
According to The Philadelphia Revenue Department “Effective May 1, 2012, Council Bill 110758 renames the Business Privilege Tax the “Business Income and Receipts Tax“ and the Business Privilege License the “Commercial Activity License“. This change will not be reflected on the actual Business Income and Receipts Tax forms until next tax season.”
As far as we can tell at JG Real Estate, this renaming does not impact any other aspect of the form. The lifetime license (which we recommend for landlords vs the annual version) still costs $300. We wrote an in depth blog post a while back which was specific to the BPL and housing inspection license, and the same concepts still hold true. That blog post may be found here.
Why the name change? Our best guess is that the City is trying to mask, with a new name, their business stifling attempt at raising revenue, which comes at the business owner’s expense.
The gifts are open, the tinsel is down, and it’s time to put away the decorations for another year! If you’re anxious to get that Christmas tree out of the house, the City of Philadelphia has an eco-friendly option with their two week long Holiday Recycling Program.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA HOLIDAY RECYCLING PROGRAM
The City of Philadelphia is asking residents to recycle their live Christmas trees by dropping them off at the following Streets Department Sanitation Convenience Centers:
3033 South 63rd Street
Domino Lane and Umbria Street
State Road and Ashburner Street
The program will run for two weeks from Monday, January 7, 2013through Saturday, January 19, 2013, and you can drop off your trees at any of the above locations Monday through Saturday 8 a.m to 6 p.m.
The Department of Parks and Recreation will then take the trees for composting and/or shred the trees into mulch. There is no charge for the drop off, and it doesn’t matter if you purchased your tree from somewhere else.
- Remove lights, ornaments and tree stands, including wooden stands and nails.
- Do not place the tree in a plastic bag.
Trees placed curbside will not be recycled, and will be considered trash.
You can also recycle your holiday gift materials, and start earning Philadelphia Recycling Rewards points. Please see the link below for full details.
Where will you be when the clock strikes 12?
New year means fresh starts, opportunities, and new beginnings. It’s important that you start your year off right by being with the people you love and celebrate the many good changes to come. Scroll below to see a variety of activities you and your loved ones can do this year. What will you do to bring in 2013?
Bars & Clubs:
Bike-Share Coming to Philadelphia
Already implemented in other cities, Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, has just announced that Philadelphia will be next in bringing “bike-share” to its streets. An exciting new and innovative form of public transportation, rental bicycles are going to be brought to the city and placed in docking stations for users.
Philadelphia’s Plan for Bike-Share
In its first year, just 650 bicycles will be in Philadelphia, growing to 1,200 bikes in the following years. These bikes would be free to ride for the first half hour and then charge a metered fare for time over that.
Bike-Sharing Pros and Cons for Philadelphians
Clearly bike-sharing will help reduce gas emissions and add to the convenience of the Philadelphia commute for some. It is a nice idea for people who want to go out and explore the area for the day, but, 650 bicycles doesn’t seem like nearly enough. To what areas is the bike-sharing going to extend? Are Philadelphia officials thinking on too small a level? Only time will tell!
4th Annual Christmas Village
Are you looking for a fun night downtown? A romantic evening? A place to take the kids? A night away from all the hustle and bustle? Then Christmas Village should be on your list.
Each year, since 2008, one of Philadelphia’s main holiday attractions has been the Christmas Village. Located at LOVE Park, in the heart of the city, this outdoor holiday market opens Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Eve.
This event grows larger each year, with about 60 vendors selling items ranging from German and European food, hand crafted goods, wines, chocolates, roasted nuts, clothing items, ornaments, and much more. Vendors set up in wooden booths, scattered about the park grounds, selling goods in the fashion of the traditional German Christmas Market, the most famous being the Christkindlesmakrt in Nuremburg, Germany. As you walk from vendor to vendor, you do in fact get a sense that you are walking through a market in Europe. There are covered tent areas for eating, drinking, or conversation, which allows for a break from the crisp winter air. Don’t miss out on this chance to experience this European Christmas tradition right here in Philadelphia.
The market is open Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 7pm, and Friday – Saturday: 11am – 8pm
For more information, visit their website at http://www.philachristmas.com/index.php
PA Home Owners: Latest X-mas Trend
Technology doubles nearly every 2 years. This allows for more creativity and possibilities for the average Joe. The latest trend popping up in many neighborhoods is synchronizing Christmas lights to music. This new technology is available to most PA Home Owners who choose to put out a great display that can be synchronized with a local radio station.
Basic 2-Step Process:
1. Set up your lights as you would normally but make sure they are all connected to each other. Protect your project by plugging the final cord into a surge protector before connecting it to the outlet.
2. To sync the music, you can either connect your lights to your Computer or use a musical Light Control Box with synchronizing capabilities. Click on the hyperlinks above to read further and learn more about the process.
Is it worth it?
This project will cost you a lot of money, time and energy, both physical and electrical. Your PECO bills will definitely run you up to the higher $1,000′s depending on how extravagant you choose to go. If you’re willing to put forth the cost, then this is your year to shine. If not, then take a drive by and you may stumble on to a great show like I did shown below.
Security For Philadelphia Rental Property
Renters in the Philadelphia area are not only looking for a lovely apartment with updates and low utility costs – they also want a place that feels safe and secure. As an owner of a Philadelphia rental property, having an alarm system installed is an inexpensive way to help your tenants feel assured that they are safe. Whether you are paying for the monthly payments of the system or they are responsible for that is completely up to you.
Philadelphia Rental Property Without a Security System
For individuals renting a property that does not have an alarm system installed, there are easy ways to secure your Philadelphia rental property.
- Wireless door and window sensors are an inexpensive way to keep your home safe from intruders. These are great for those doors that are always kept closed, or those basement windows that you want to protect.
- There are security systems that are made just for renters. You buy the base kit and you can take it with you from place to place without having to make the home modifications that are necessary with some systems. With these systems, mobility is the key, and that is exactly what a renter needs.
- If you don’t have the money to invest in a security system and security company, your best bet may be to buy a door sensor that rings when people go in and out. While it may not be the most secure systems, it will at least alert you when someone is entering your home and that can be all it takes to protect you.
Here’s a familiar scenario: Following those yellow arrows along the cramped, cement hallways, trying to sift through Akurum, Stolmen, Bigel and Fintorp with overcooked meatballs on your breath. And in the end, after all of the time you spent trying to decide between the Baren or the Enudden toilet paper holder.. you realize when visiting friends that your apartment looks just like theirs. If your Philadelphia apartment décor is ending up way too identical to the pages of the Ikea catalogues, I have a new suggestion -
This local company is situated in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia and despite the fact that they were only just established in 2011, they have already become widely popular, even making Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly 2012 list for “Best Eco-Cool Décor in Philly.” So, what’s their deal?
- 5,000 square feet of architectural & industrial salvage products
- a variety of reclaimed doors, stained glass windows, repurposed wooden cabinetry & furniture
- a constantly rotating stock of rare, antique & vintage finds
For those who have the ability to see an object and create a new, repurposed use for it — this is golden. My neighbors have wooden boxes, similar to the ones in the photo, mounted flat against their living room walls to serve as shelving. Nail a decorative, antique door hinge to the wall with the posts sticking out and you have a place to hang your keys. They have antique storage trunks as well which could either be used now as decorations or… as storage trunks! The point is that someone else’s trash can actually become quite useful & creative.
It’s also perfect for those of you who prefer to be more eco-friendly. These objects are not mass produced (or, if they were at one time.. long long ago, they certainly aren’t anymore); their store is filled with things that were going to be thrown away completely but that someone is finding a new use for.
When I went there for the first time this weekend, I ended up with two old, matching window panes. I hung them on the living room wall because I actually liked the look more than any of the generic posters I have (besides, it’s what the kids on Pinterest are doing and I guess I need to keep up with that).
These repurposed materials can really make your Philadelphia apartment decor more in line with your individual tastes. Besides, these old things have stories of their own, past lives in different Philly spaces; they’ve been used in celebrations, have been kicked in a fit of frustration, have held strong the embrace of someone crying… and if that’s too corny for you, how about — the stuff just looks cool.
By the way, here are my windows. $10 each
and yes, the couch is Ikea… sometimes the Swedes are awesome.
Creating Internet Ads to Market Your Philadelphia Real Estate
In the age of Craigslist and Zillow, everyone who has a Philadelphia real estate rental property have posted an ad on the internet. There are hundreds to scan through every day until finding the perfect place for you to call home. For property manager’s and owners alike, it is important that these ads be realistic and well-written to increase interest. Below are some tips to live by when writing your Philadelphia real estate advertisements.
Tips to Increase Ad Interest
First and foremost, make sure that your ads are a realistic reflection of your property. Do not say that your property has “humongous closets,” when in reality there is only room in the closets for 5 things to hang. Maybe you will create more interest in the unit and get more people to see it, but, if you look like a liar to the interested parties, what else are you going to lie about? This is not a good place to start off a relationship.
When creating your ad, do your best to add pictures. This is what will draw a majority of the people who are looking at the property. Even if they aren’t the best quality, some kind of picture is better than nothing at all. In the case that your Philadelphia real estate is currently being constructed, get an image of the finishes, get a floorplan to ad to the listing – anything you can use to help others visualize the property is a benefit to you as the property owner.
The most important thing you can do is to reread your ad and make sure there are no errors. If you are listing on the internet, it is easier to go back and revise your advertisement, but, the last thing you want is to write “walking closet” instead of “walk-in closet,” or “available 1/1″ instead of “available 11/1.”
The video below touches on some of the things I discussed.
For more interest on ad writing and the way JG Real Estate exceeds expectations by creating incredible ads, please call our office today at 215-467-4100.
Fire Prevention in Philadelphia – Holiday Season Tips
When holiday time approaches, families around the Philadelphia area start decorating with lights and trees as part of the longstanding tradition. While they may increase your holiday spirit, they also increase your chance of fires in your Philadelphia property. “Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 240 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 150 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.” In order to keep you safe, here are some tips to keep your family and your home safe this holiday season.
Tips For Fire Prevention
- When selecting a Christmas tree, try to choose one that is fresh and has not been sitting around drying out. Newer trees can be identified by greener needles and a sticky trunk. If you have tons of needles falling off of your tree, the tree is probably older and has dried out.
- Be smart about where you are placing your tree or decorations. Do not place them too close to a heat source like a vent or fireplace.
- Check your holiday lights. Make sure there are no wires frayed or broken sockets. Normal wear and tear does occur from weathering and taking down/putting up the lights.
- Do your best not to overload the outlets. If you are hanging a lot of lights, try to use different outlets around the house instead of plugging them all into one place.
- If you like the look of candles in the windows or around the house, consider using battery-operated candles. If you must have real candles, make sure the candles are in stable holders and never leave them unattended! Always blow them out before leaving the house.
As is imperative at all times of the year, make sure you have working batteries in your smoke detectors and they are working properly.
We wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!