Blog – Cecilia Bird Real Estate Team – Realtor & Property Manager

Today I’m answering a question that I get a lot, and it’s about your landlord pet policy. Helping me on this blog is Guy, who is my heart and my furbaby. I cannot imagine living anywhere that Guy couldn’t go with me. In fact, I wouldn’t live anywhere he couldn’t go with me. Most people feel that way about their pets.

Should You Allow Pets in Your Property?

Even homeowners who have pets themselves can be leery about allowing tenants with pets into their rental property. However, if you’re comfortable with it, my recommendation is that you say yes to pets. That’s because if you say no, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities as a homeowner to rent your property to really great tenants.

Qualifying Pets and Pet Addendum to Lease

Saying yes to pets does not mean any and all pets are allowed. There should be requirements, and the pet should qualify just the tenant has to qualify. I don’t allow certain breeds, and the first thing you should do is contact your insurance company because every insurance company will have a restricted breed list. You want to know which breeds are on that list before you say yes to a pet. There might be some documentation that’s required as well. I require records and documentation on any pet and even though I’ve never had to use it, those records are in my files throughout the tenancy.

Property Management in Richmond Hill, GA: Cats

I have always had cats myself, and they have never been a problem. But your house is not my house, and I do go to a lot of property management classes where I hear horror stories about cats. So I don’t recommend those. The families I would approve as tenants love and treat their pets just like any other member of their family, and that’s the way it should be.

If you have any questions about pets or you need help with a landlord pet addendum agreement, please contact me at Cecilia Bird and Re/Max Accent. I look forward to helping you with your Richmond Hill, GA property management needs.

As a real estate agent and property manager with Re/Max Accent, I want to take a moment and introduce myself, because after many years of being in the industry, I have seen the property management side of the real estate business really boom. I have been doing property management in Richmond Hill professionally since 2000. However, I have been buying real estate for most of my life. I have bought homes, remodeled homes, rehabbed homes from the ground up, been involved in new construction, sold homes, bought homes to flip, and I’ve rented out a lot of the homes I’ve purchased. I manage those rentals myself.

Established Processes and Systems

So, through the years of all the professional development and all the personal experience that I have gained with my own real estate investments, I feel like I have a good idea of what someone is looking for when they’re hiring a property management company to handle their investments. I’ve made some mistakes and learned some lessons the hard way, but fortunately I’ve learned those lessons on my own dime and not anyone else’s. I have set up my system and my property management company through all the experience that has been gained through these years.

Tenant Placement

I am personally involved in every process, and I personally qualify each tenant for a property I manage. When that tenant is approved for your home, I sit down with the tenant and face-to-face, and I go over the lease and the documentation that the tenant must sign. I want to make sure that tenant understands their responsibilities, and I want to set clear expectations.

Tenants may have rented in the past, but one thing I’ve learned is that real estate operates differently in different parts of the country. So, a tenant’s expectations might be different from ours. We want to make sure we are all on the same page, so I make sure to take the time to explain what the tenant’s responsibilities will be and how the processes will work.

Property Inspections

I also conduct regular inspections at the property. Again, I want to make sure the tenant is taking care of your home. A lot of people are renting out their properties because they’re struggling to sell them. but I also know that this is a huge investment for you, and often there’s very little profit margin. So, you want to make sure that house is taken care of. We want to make sure there aren’t any owner maintenance items that need to be addressed. This is a saturated market, a high demand market, and a fast-moving market. When you have a tenant in town for the weekend, you want to make sure your property shows as well or better than the competing properties.

Vendor Relationships

Many long-term relationships have been established with vendors in every industry. Whatever issue we’re having with your home, I have a vendor who can take care of it. Those vendors are also another set of eyes on your property. They know I’m going to drill them when they’ve been in your property, and they are prepared for that. It’s another service they do for me. They’re taking care of the leaky sink but also looking around and reporting anything I should know.

It’s crucial for the tenants to know that we are always there for them. It has to be a win-win situation that’s successful for all parties involved. We want to have a successful, profitable, pleasant transaction with everyone involved.

There’s a lot more involved in Richmond Hill property management. If you’d like to discuss additional details, please contact us at Re/Max Accent Property Management Services by Cecilia Bird.

Rental property upgrades can be inexpensive, and today I’m sharing some budget friendly ways to update your rental property. As I walk through a house with a property owner, I always think of ways to make it more competitive with the other homes that are available on the market. The least amount of time you spend on the market, the better your bottom line will be.


Light Fixtures and Ceiling Fans

Brass is outdated, and brushed nickel or brushed bronze are the ways to go today. I would recommend getting the Rust-Oleum spray paint. Take the fixtures down and spray paint all the brass pieces. Put it back together and it will last forever. If the globes are dated and look very old, you can change those out inexpensively as well. Those things will last you some time and save some money.


Door Knobs and Plumbing Fixtures

Plumbing fixtures and door knobs can also be updated with some paint. However, replacing your door knobs might be a better idea. They cost $10, and the paint there will not last as long because they get touched so frequently. This is the same with your faucets. But, this tip can buy you some time so you can budget for replacements in the future. Follow the proper prep instructions, and everything will last even longer. This is a big impact for little money and time. Most homeowners can do these upgrades themselves, and if not, I can recommend someone who can do that for you.


Updating Kitchens and Bathroom Fixtures

Kitchens and bathrooms make or break deals on a house. If your cabinets don’t have door pulls or knobs, consider adding them. You can buy them inexpensively online. I can put those on myself, so anyone can do it. This is inexpensive and quick. If you already have door pulls and doorknobs, you can paint them to give them a fresh finish. But, they are also handled a lot, so it’s better to buy new ones. If you have handles, do the same spread that you currently have so you don’t need to drill new holes in your cabinetry.


Laminate Counters

You’ll be amazed at your options for laminate countertops. It looks so much like granite, you need to touch it to tell the difference. So if your countertops are worn out, you can buy inexpensive laminate countertops off the shelves. This is simple and inexpensive and it will make a huge impact. Of course new stainless steel appliances will make the biggest impact, but you can’t do those for less than $2,000. With the door pulls and the counter tops, you’re still getting some noticeable upgrades.


Kitchen and Bathroom Flooring

Vinyl flooring is easy to change, but I don’t recommend it in rentals because it’s hard to patch. Once it’s torn, you need to replace the entire room. Do something more durable if you can. Peel and press tiles are a little more expensive and time consuming, but it looks great and will last longer.

These are some of the ways to upgrade and make a big impact for a little money. Make sure your paint is neutral. If your paint is neutral and in good condition, check your trim. You can only wash trim so much before it no longer helps. One thin coat of new paint will make it look great again! Paying attention to these details and keeping your home sparkling clean will help your bottom line.

I’d be happy to make more suggestions or answer any questions you have about property management in Richmond Hill, GA, so please contact me at Cecilia Bird Re/Max Accent.

I have been doing property management in Richmond Hill, GA for over 20 years, and one of the questions I get asked repeatedly is – how do I get my property ready to rent? I start by going over to the house and walking through it with the homeowner. We make a list of the things that are needed. Every home is different, but there are general things that everyone needs to do to get their home ready for the rental market.


Exterior Appeal

I’m very systematic, so I start at the mailbox and then work my way in. If your mailbox is rusted and pitted, you should spend the $20 to replace it. You can also paint the post if it’s peeling and chipped and put new numbers on it so it looks clean. If you have an older home and the flower beds in front of the house are overgrown, you really need to trim those down. It helps the house to look better and it also makes the landscaping more manageable for the tenant. Pull out anything that’s old and hard to manage, and put some fresh pine straw or mulch in. This will give your property wonderful curb appeal. Look at the front door and the shutters. If the shutters are sun faded, it’s inexpensive to take them down and spray paint them. Paint the door too, if necessary, because it makes a huge difference.


Interior Paint and Cleanliness

Inside, the home needs to be neutral, and that does not mean white. The paint must be in good condition and if it’s not, consider painting. I know that’s a pain, but it’s something most property owners can do, and it will make a difference in the amount of rent you charge and the time your property spends on the market. The longer it’s on the market, the less money you will net. If you can’t paint the home yourself, hire a painter. You’ll want a medium to high grade paint that’s washable and flat. It won’t show any defects in the wall, and when you’re ready to paint again, you won’t have to sand it.

These are important things that will save you money. If you have neutral paint that’s in good shape, look at your trim. You may just need to run a thin coat of white paint over the trim and door jambs. Freshen those up because it can go a long way. The house must be clean as well.


How to Rent Out Your House: Maintenance

I also recommend taking care of maintenance items, such as your HVAC. These systems work hard in Georgia. You should have a maintenance agreement in place to have the HVAC maintained and cleaned on a regular basis. If it’s not, this is a great time to set that up. Your system will last longer, and if a technician can come over while you’re there, you can get some insight on how long your system will last. There’s no magic answer, but if you have some idea, you can anticipate when this big ticket item might need to be replaced.

Keep your termite bond, and call your insurance company. The insurance you’ll need for a tenant-occupied property is different than what you have as a homeowner. I always ask that you add me as an authorized person with the utility companies to connect and disconnect services. I won’t have to ask you to make the phone call when tenants are moving in and out and the utilities need to be switched over. I can get everything transferred for you if I am authorized to do so on your behalf.

These are some general things that every home will need. There are other things you can do that are inexpensive, and we’ll talk about those in the next blog. If you have any other questions about getting your house ready to rent or Richmond Hill, GA property management, please contact me at Cecilia Bird Re/Max Accent.

I want to talk today about an interview I went on earlier. I typically don’t go on interviews – it’s rare, because I’ve been in the property management business for a long time, and people know me and my reputation and my style. Usually, when owners call or visit, they already know that it’s me they want to manage their property. But today, I was honored to do an interview along with a few other property managers. I got the job! These particular owners have never rented a house out before, but they have been renters. So, they shared with me that they had experienced the good, bad, and ugly with property management. As they prepare to rent out their home, they wanted to pick a property manager that they could have a good relationship with as well as their tenants. They had watched some of the videos I’ve done previously about how I manage and how I find tenants, and they asked a lot about advertising and how I would list their house for rent.

List My House for Rent: Internet Advertising

I do a lot of internet advertising when I list a house for rent. I use the popular sites that everyone is familiar with, like Zillow, Trulia, and In other parts of the country, prospective tenants are also using sites like, ODDEE, and Front Door. When I advertise a property on these sites, the listings are syndicated to additional sites. In addition to those regional and national sites, I have a property management site myself that I use to advertise your properties, which link to my real estate site, so there’s a lot of information about the area between the two. Prospective tenants can see information about your home; I’ll write a fluffy ad to engage the tenant, and I post the maximum number of professional pictures. I include pictures of neighborhood amenities, which helps tenants to gather information about the area.

Richmond Hill Property Management: The RE/MAX Brand

In addition to my property management site, I also have the powerful RE/MAX brand behind me. Your listing will appear on RE/, and the office has been in business for a long time, and it has a phenomenal website. There is also a site the city of Richmond Hill has that is popular and has been around for a long time. There are also military websites that I use to advertise properties, and there’s one in particular that can only be accessed by property managers and members of the military. On top of all the internet advertising we use, my company has the premier property management presence in Richmond Hill. You cannot come here without seeing our office. We are on a prime piece of real estate directly across from city hall, and you cannot miss us. Our office is in Richmond Hill, but my services range all over the local area. This area has been my home for 28 years, so I have a great understanding of the local market and how to advertise in it. If you have any other questions about property management or where to advertise your rental, please contact us at RE/MAX ACCENT Property Management Services by Cecilia Bird.

Last time we talked about the different protocols of property management companies in Richmond Hill and the surrounding areas, and the systems they put into place to effectively manage your property. Today, we’re talking about the best ways to conduct tenant screening so you can find qualified tenants to be approved to move into your property.


Applications and Documentation

The process starts with the tenant looking at their options, and that can be a stressful situation for a tenant. In most cases, they’re in town for one day or a couple of days at most, and they need to look at their options and make a decision. Then, they’ll come back to the office and fill out an application for the property they have decided on. Or, they will go online to fill out the application. In addition to the application, we need a copy of their driver’s license, and they are also required to give me a copy of their last pay stub. If they don’t have a pay stub because they’re moving to the area for a new job, we ask for a copy of the contract that states they’ll begin working for the ports or Gulfstream or the school system, or wherever they’ve been hired.


Rental References

If they have rented in the past, I ask for a rental reference directly from the current landlord. If they have been there for less than two years, I ask for a reference from their previous landlord as well. The rental verification will tell me how they take care of their property, whether they’ve ever had any unauthorized pets or people in the property. If they own a home and they are moving, that will show on their credit report.


Reading the Credit Report

We pull the credit report and gather the documentation to see a history of how financially stable they are, how they pay bills. The credit report is vital. You have to know how to read it, especially since the economic downturn. A lot of people’s credit was damaged during the economic downturn, so you must know what you’re looking for when you’re checking a credit report. If someone lost a job and was unemployed for six months, it’s possible they lost their home to a foreclosure. So, if you see that on the credit report, but they have re-established themselves since then and work consistently, that damaged credit will not be a problem. You shouldn’t look just at the score. Use a property manager who knows how to read a credit report and can look through that report to see red flags. There might be things that look like red flags because they impact the score, but they’re not. You don’t want potential prospects for your property to be turned down if they would make good tenants, because that leaves your property vacant.


Look at Bank Statements

If I ever have a situation where the numbers aren’t quite where I want them to be, but everything else looks okay on the application, I will require the applicant to give me three or six months’ worth of bank statements. Then, I can see how they are living and managing their finances on a day to day basis. The bank statements will show you a daily history of how money is managed. Typically, the way one takes care of finances indicates how one will take care of your home. These are some of the things involved in finding qualified tenants for your home. There’s lots more involved, and I’d be happy to discuss it further. If you have any questions about Richmond Hill property management, or you’d like more detail about how to screen a tenant, please contact us at RE/MAX Accent Property Management Services by Cecilia Bird.