Why BMG is the Right Group to Manage Your Single-Family Rental in Baltimore


Managing a Baltimore rental property is seldom easy. There are different trials and tribulations associated with multi-dwelling units, as opposed to single-family rental houses. Investors who rent single-family homes to tenants may be less “in the know” about the legal ramifications that can result from non-compliance of rental laws. Beyond that, there are a lot of things that need to be kept up with on single-family homes that a lot of people don’t realize until big invoices start to fall in their laps.

That’s why landlords trust Bay Management Group with their Baltimore rental properties.

BMG is the premier choice for property managers across the greater Baltimore region. We know the laws, and we know how to make tenants and landlords happy. Here are the top five reasons people choose our Baltimore property management company when they want positive results:

1. A Great Reputation

Bay Management Group holds an outstanding reputation for property management in Baltimore.

We currently manage about 1,500 units, just in the city of Baltimore alone. Our familiarity with the city, its neighborhoods’ personalities, and the amenities available in each location enable us to locate tenants whose needs align with the available properties of our landlord clients. Not only that, but we’re skilled in managing more single-family units than any other property management company in Baltimore.

2. Brokers’ Licenses

Bay Management Group holds a broker’s license, and we advise any homeowner to choose a property management company that maintains an active broker’s license in the state of Maryland.

We are your one-stop-shop when it comes to caring for your investment. This means our team will market your property, negotiate headaches with contractors, and ensure your property is in move-in condition when it’s time to find a new tenant.

In 45 out of 50 states, anyone who manages someone else’s property is required to have a brokers’ license. Maryland does not mandate this requirement, but at Bay Management Group, we believe it’s an essential component to the overall success of our business and our clients. As such, we ensure that we keep our broker’s license current, bringing with it the value that only trusted, reputable brokers can deliver to their clients.In order to have a broker’s license you are required to have met the following:

  • Passed a criminal background check
  • Maintain an excellent credit score(remember you are holding tons of tenant and owner money)
  • Pass a state examination
  • Have had your salespersons license for 3 years prior to taking the brokers exam
  • Complete 60 hours of pre licensing coursework with an approved education provider

With several years’ experience under our belts, we’re proud to say we understand our clients and tenants, and we know the importance of having a brokers’ license.

3. Accessibility Anytime, Anywhere

It only makes sense that you should be able to see what’s going on with your property when you want to check in on things. It’s an essential element that gives you the transparency and insight you need into your investment.

Bay Management Group provides our clients with a cloud-based software system that offers owners access to their accounts and statements each month. You can easily log into your portal to review your account any time.

4. Competitive Rates

Bay Management Group is proud to offer fees that are extremely competitive in our industry. We charge 8% of the monthly rent, one month’s rent to lease a vacant unit, and $299 if an existing tenant renews. We believe economies-of-scale have enabled our company to be competitive about pricing while still providing outstanding customer service.

5. Easy Access to Maintenance

BMG is very competitive with our maintenance costs. We have multiple contractors who are trustworthy, enabling us to stand by the quality of work they provide while solidifying competitive pricing for our clients.

When a roof needs to be replaced—or an HVAC system gets installed—you can rest assured that our BMG team and our network of reliable vendors have already negotiated the best prices possible for your situation. BMG works with multiple contractors who are standing by and ready to give competitive quotes each time the need arises. Due to the number of units we service, we’re able to achieve super competitive pricing from our contractors, which, in turn, we pass on to our clients.

Bay Management Group was formed in 2010. We’ve continued to grow year after year because our customers recognize our commitment to outstanding service and top-of-the-line property management. We wouldn’t be so highly acclaimed if our clients and their tenants didn’t believe in the work we’re doing, which makes everyone’s life a little easier.

BMG is here to help you market your rental home to the right tenants. Through our thorough screening process, we’ll find you a selection of candidates that’ll perfectly fit the clauses within your lease. Reach out to our BMG group to learn more today!

When is the Best Time to Put Your Property on the Market to Rent

rent out propertyIf you own a rental property, you want to fill vacancies as soon as you can. After all, the faster you can get a tenant to sign a lease, the quicker you’re bringing in income and satisfying the bills that fulfill your bottom line.

There’s always a debate about the best time for people to put their properties on the rental market. Some people say spring; others say summer. While you don’t always have a say in the timeframe in which your properties become available to renters, there is a science related to making Baltimore rental properties attractive at the right times and to the right audiences.

Here’s a quick guideline that’ll help you rent out property to the people who are most likely to pay attention when you have vacancies:

1. Location: Near Colleges and Universities 
Before you consider renting out your house, take a look at the surrounding community. Is your home located near a college or university? If so, you’ll probably want to have your house on the market at least a couple of months before school starts. Students who are seeking off-campus housing tend to start looking for homes in July or August, if not sooner. They want to lock down their leases, so they’re in a good place when school starts.

Even though academic renters may not be moving into your rental property until the school year begins, they start looking for properties pretty early. Don’t let great renters slip by the wayside because you thought it was okay to wait until later.

2. Location: Not Near Colleges or Universities 
Spring and summer are the best time of year to rent out a house that is on or around university grounds. Bay Management Group advocates placing your property on the market between March and July (if possible). This is when young professionals and families are exploring their environments and looking for their next homes. They’re meandering through coffee shops, enjoying daily walks, and figuring out which neighborhoods would work best for their needs.

Spring and early summer offer prime months for potential tenants to take advantage of beautiful weather while they see what’s out there in the rental market. You don’t want to be left out in the rain because you didn’t list your property in time to catch the springtime attention.

3. Prolonging the Off-Season 
You don’t always have the luxury of choosing when a tenant moves into your space. Sometimes, off-months like November, December, or January lend themselves to vacancies you need to fill. In these cases, try to entice your tenants to stick around on month-to-month leases so you can be in good standing when the optimal renting time rolls back around. This won’t only benefit you; it will help your renter, too, as places are bound to become available as the snow starts melting.

If your tenants love your pad, place them on a year-to-year lease that expires between March and July. You can easily offer an incentive for a re-signing if your tenants have shown themselves to be great renters up to this point. Off-season re-signing can be remedied with 15-month leases, which typically fill the gaps of the winter months.

4. Lease Terms 
Bay Management Group advocates year-to-year leases whenever possible. By having your tenants agree to twelve-month-at-a-time contracts, you can rest easy, knowing you don’t have to constantly be on the lookout for 30-day notices before your tenants move out. These 12-month leases ensure the people who will be staying on your property commit, and if anything should go amiss while they’re there, you have legal guidance to remedy bad situations. Consider offering slight reductions in monthly rent to people who are willing to sign two-year leases (or longer). In the end, you’ll save money because you won’t need to change the carpet, paint the walls, or market the property as frequently as you would have, had your tenant only signed a single-year lease.

Bay Management Group rents single-family homes and units within multi-dwelling buildings throughout the year. If you’re able to get your renters on a schedule that begins or renews between March and July, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. But we know you don’t always have control over the months in which your vacancies become available. That’s why we’re here to help all year long. From placing advertisements to screening tenants and performing eviction procedures, Bay Management Group is your full-suite property management firm.

BMG knows how to market rental properties, no matter which season your vacancies become available. Thanks to our team of highly skilled property managers and real estate investment pros, you’ll be in good hands when you have square footage that needs to be filled. Touch base with our team to see how we can help you achieve optimal ROI on your investment property today!

Making the House Safer for Children When Renting

child safety gate

Is it legal to not rent to someone with a child?

Great question!

Are you aware that you could get in big trouble if you deny parents the right to rent your property? This is a very real statement, and it’s something that could cost you substantial fines and penalties if you disobey the laws that are in place to protect renters who have small children. Landlord discrimination against children is an offense that’s taken very seriously by courts in cities across the nation.

Property managers and landlords around the country—including Baltimore County—are forbidden from discriminating against tenants because they have children. Doing so would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act regarding “familial status.” With this in mind, if you have a new renter who has a child, it’s important to childproof your house to make it safe and accommodating for even your youngest tenants.

Here are a few helpful suggestions as you prepare your rental property for children:

1. Install Cabinet Locks

Install cabinet locks so children aren’t able to access toxic chemicals or hazardous materials.

As an adult, it can be pretty easy to forget which substances little hands shouldn’t get ahold of. If you’re unsure, put a lock on it. You can never have too many locks, but you can certainly have too few. Pay special attention to cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom, as these are the two rooms where hazardous substances are most likely to be kept. If the apartment or house has a laundry room, you’ll want to make sure you give this space attention, too. Bleach and laundry detergents and even small detergent pods can be a temptation for children, and if consumed, can cause a lot of harm very quickly.

2. Eliminate Cords from Blinds

If the blinds in your rental property have long cords, replace them with window coverings that don’t have cords or strings hanging down. Window-covering cords present choking hazards for children of all ages—even babies in cribs. An accidental entanglement can cause kids or babies to asphyxiate.

3. Put a Fence Around Your Pool

If there is a pool at your property, pool safety needs to be high on your list of priorities. Install a fence around the pool to prevent children from wandering into the area and falling into the water accidentally when no one is around to assist them from drowning.

4. Tighten Loose Railings

Loose railings present potential hazards for renters of all ages. It’s important to check any railings on both the interior and exterior of the house to identify any that are loose and won’t provide stable support to those who need it.

Make sure every railing is checked and tightened before anyone moves into the property—especially someone with small children.

5. Cover Electrical Outlets

Little fingers have a way of finding holes you wouldn’t even think about, which certainly includes electric sockets. Many parents prefer to keep electrical outlets covered so kids can’t explore the holes with their fingers or sharp objects. As a landlord and property manager, this is a very inexpensive way to prevent accidents and childproof the house.

6. Install Baby Gates

If your rental home has stairs, install gates at the top of the stairs so a child doesn’t accidentally fall down. Of course, baby gates aren’t just for tenants with babies; they’re a solid investment to help any tenant who will have younger family members living in your property.

Don’t overlook areas where there might only be two or three steps; A tumble down even a few stairs can cause devastating results.

If a child ends up getting hurt on a rental property, the owner, landlord, and property manager can all be held liable. As the owner and landlord of your investment property, you’ll want to take a few steps to make sure you’ve done everything you can to make your home safe for tenants who are moving in with children. If you’re not sure what parts of your home may be unsafe for your smallest tenants, take a day to see the world from their points of view. When you’re down on the ground at a child’s height, you’ll likely identify safety concerns you wouldn’t even have spotted from your typical vantage point.

Property Management for Your Property

Our team at Bay Management Group is serious about ensuring our clients abide by all applicable rental laws for the safety of all tenants. We’re well-versed in federal, state, and local statutes that govern our clients’ rental properties, enabling us to provide guidance and direction whenever it’s needed. If you’re searching for a property management company in Baltimore that knows how to protect you, you’ve come to the right place! Get your free Property Management Analysis from our team today!

Preventative Rental Property Maintenance Checklist

staining deck

It’s easy to let your rental or investment property go without small repairs or preventative maintenance from time to time. As a landlord, you’re a busy person, and if you have other tasks to tend to besides your rental property—which you almost assuredly do—time can easily slip away. You miss one annual checkup, and you think, “I’ll just do it next time.” Before you know it, you’ve added a dozen do-it-laters to your list, and things start to fall by the wayside.

Little things can add up quickly when it comes to preventative maintenance and repairs; putting off small items can cost you ten times more money in the long run if they’re not tended to in a timely manner.

To help you make the most of your investment, we’ve compiled this rental property maintenance checklist, so you don’t miss a thing:

1. Change Your HVAC Filters Quarterly

Your HVAC system accumulates a lot of dust, dirt, dander, and pollen every day. Its filters have a huge job, and if you’re not changing them regularly, your HVAC system will become inefficient, ultimately costing you mostly in energy costs—as well as repair costs to the unit down the road.

By changing your HVAC filters each quarter, you’re enabling your heating and ventilation system to function at the highest level possible, preserving its overall life. Studies have shown that by not changing your filter regularly, your system will last half as long as it would if it were properly maintained.

2. Turn Off Water to Outside Spigots Every Fall

Winter can settle in without much warning. We recommend turning the water off that leads to your outdoor spigots every fall. By doing this, you’ll prevent water from freezing within your pipes, which can lead to burst lines when temperatures fall below 32 degrees for extended periods of time—an expensive endeavor that can eat into your budget from many different aspects.

3. Clean Your Gutters Every Autumn

Your gutters will begin to accumulate dead leaves as soon as summer changes into fall. Gutters that are filled with debris prevent water from draining off the roof properly. This situation often leads to unexpected water damage because the water that’s gathered after precipitation falls needs to escape somewhere. If it’s unable to get down your gutters, it’ll likely seek the path of least resistance, which often forces it to find its way underneath shingles and into any open area available if it’s able to travel down the side of your house. The end result can be very costly water damage.

4. Remove Leaves from Your Yard Each Fall

A lot of homeowners don’t realize the importance of removing leaves from the lawn when the trees start to go bare. In fact, if you’re not diligent about cleaning up dead leaf debris, you might actually find yourself with dead grass, too. A buildup of organic matter on your lawn leads to something called thatch—a thick mat of material that starves your grass’s roots of oxygen and minerals. The end result could be a lawn that never gets a chance to grow when spring arrives.

The cost of redoing your landscaping will be considerably more than the time it takes to rake leaves regularly.

5. Stain Your Deck and Fence Every Now and Then

Your home’s wooden features are exposed to sunlight and weather elements all year long. If you have a deck or fencing, they’re particularly susceptible to premature damage if they’re not kept protected. Staining these items can preserve the life of the wood by three times the lifespan of untreated materials.

Even the best stain fades eventually, which is why it’s important to apply a fresh coat every few years to ensure your investment is protected as best as possible. A quality stain and sealer can help prevent the wood from chipping, peeling, and cracking as it swells and shrinks in hot and cold temperatures. The higher quality stain you choose for this task, the less frequently you’ll need to apply new stain. But, you should still check in with your wood features every so often to ensure they’re not experiencing excessive fading or damage that a new layer of protection wouldn’t fix.

6. Power Wash Your Porch and Siding Every Few Years

Power washing is another part of standard maintenance that doesn’t need to be done every year, but should be done on a regular basis. By performing this duty every few years, you’ll not only keep your porch and siding looking its best (thus, attracting more potential renters when it’s time to advertise your investment again), but it will also remove mold and mildew, which can cause damage beyond the exterior of your home if it continues to grow and find its way to the inside of your walls.

Power washing is also an important part of the process when it’s time to re-stain your fence and deck. It will remove the existing sealant, stain, dirt, and grime, giving you a great foundation for the longest-lasting results.

Beware that power washing isn’t always an activity for amateurs. It’s often best to hire professionals to take care of this job because a misapplication of the water pressure can wind up splintering and damaging your wood. What starts as a simple cleaning task can quickly turn into an expensive project.

Hire a Property Management Company

It’s very easy to overlook these regular maintenance items. At Bay Management Group, we’d venture to say 80% of homeowners are negligent in at least two of these categories. We strongly feel the value of your home will be optimized when you follow these six preventative maintenance guidelines.

At Bay Management Group, we understand the importance of rental property maintenance; that’s why we employ a team of trusted handymen, contractors, and rental maintenance professionals to ensure our clients’ investment properties are well-cared for all year long. If you’re ready to experience a better way to manage your rental property, we invite you to learn more about BMG’s property management services today!

The Pros and Cons: One-Month Free vs Lowering the Rent

lower rent vs free month

When it comes to attracting new tenants, there are many different things you can advertise to bring attention to your property. Of course, online ads are essential, and you need to have a rental property where people will actually want to live. But what do you do when you need to get potential renters over the hump, so they sign on the dotted line? Free money usually does the trick!

There’s been a constant debate between offering one month’s rent free versus reducing the rent on a monthly basis for the tenant throughout the term of the lease. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each approach. For simple math, we’ll assume you’re renting your space for $1,300 a month on a twelve-month lease.

Pros of Offering One-Month’s Rent Free:

  • Easy Marketing. It’s easy to attract people to your place when they don’t have to pay for the first month’s rent. This tactic works particularly well if you need to fill vacancies quickly, especially if you have multiple apartments that need to be rented. Switching apartments can be quite costly, and many people could use the option of a first month free to make for a better transition while they wait to get their deposits back from their prior apartment. A one-month concession can make this process much easier for prospective tenants.
  • Increased Renewal Rates. When the lease is up, your tenants’ renewal increases will be based on the monthly amount they paid for rent. The one-month concession doesn’t factor into the equation, so you can still charge an increased renewal price that’s appropriate in relation to the monthly rent. Using our example rental payments, you could calculate an annual increase on the $1,300 monthly rent, even though the renter didn’t pay one of those months.
  • Availability of More Income Each Month. If you’ve ever worried you might have to spike rent just to cover the bills, you’ll probably understand why the one-month free option appeals to some landlords. One-month-free concessions tend to keep occupancy high. Properties that don’t have vacancies typically have more leeway in terms of cash flow.

Cons of Offering One-Month’s Rent Free:

  • Renters’ Inability to Pay. If you have renters who are stretched to meet your monthly rent after the one-month free concession has ended, you may find yourself in the face of an eviction process. This situation also lends itself to costly court battles and the potential of damaged property. As a landlord, you have enough things to deal with; if you can put out fires before they even begin, that’s always a good, proactive approach. It’s important to thoroughly screen renters to ensure they have the funds to pay rent when the contractual charges settle in.
  • Potential of Attracting Underqualified Candidates. If you’re attracting renters who are solely interested in your property because you’re offering a free month’s rent, that could be a red flag for future problems. Of course, that’s certainly not always the case, but it’s definitely a possibility to be aware of.
  • A Month of Missing Income. This is the most obvious con. When you offer a month of free rent, you’re immediately leaving that income off the books for an entire thirty-day cycle. If you’re in a pinch for cash right now, that free month might be the make or break moment for your bank account.

Lowering Monthly Rent

Now let’s use the same $1,300-per month example. If you shave off $100 per month for the length of the lease, your tenants will pay $1,200 a month. Some property owners believe it makes more sense to lower the rent versus offering a single month free. At Bay Management Group, we agree. By lowering the monthly rent, you’ll expand your pool of potential tenants because most renters tend to search within a specified price range. You’re effectively moving into a different pricing category for potential tenants; thus, you’ll get more candidates inquiring about the property.

Pros of Lowering Monthly Rent

  • Attracting a Higher Pool of Potential Tenants. The higher your monthly rent is, the smaller the pool of potential renters will be. By lowering your monthly rent, you’ll increase visibility to your property. This is an important marketing tool that’ll take care of most of the work itself, simply by making you more searchable by a greater number of people.
  • Filling Vacancies Quickly. The longer your property stands vacant, the more money you’re losing. Each day takes a hit on your wallet, and the more expensive your property is to rent, the longer it’s likely to exist without potential tenants. Sure, you could get lucky if you have a pricey place on the market because there are always people looking for rental properties. But it’s much easier to cast a wide net when your monthly rent is lower. By filling vacancies quickly, you ensure a steadier revenue stream.

Cons of Lowering Monthly Rent

  • Decreased Revenue Each Month. Obviously, the lower you make your monthly rent, the less income you’ll have each month. It’s important to do the math and make sure you’re presenting realistic numbers that still ensure you’re covering all of your bases, so you don’t find yourself in crisis mode a few months down the road.
  • Difficulty Increasing Rent with Renewals. When your tenants’ leases are up, you’ll have a hard time bringing your property back to market rates if you decrease the monthly rent too much. A stark increase will likely lead to turnover, which can be costly in and of itself. That will require repairs and renovations, advertising costs, screening potential new renters, and dealing with new lease agreements.

Incentives really are a personal preference. Whether you choose to offer a free month’s rent, or you decide to lower the rent across the entire term of the lease, there are pros and cons to each option. At Bay Management Group, we have had far greater success by lowering the rent. We feel that if an owner gives us the option to either (a) offer one-month free at $1,300 or (b) lower the rent by $100 per month, we would choose to lower the rent by $100 all day long. In our experience, the property will lease much faster with the lower rent and attract higher-quality tenants.

Are you feeling stuck, trying to decide if you should reduce rent or offer one-month free rent? Don’t deal with this decision alone! Bay Management Group is Baltimore’s go-to property management company landlords look to when they need help with these types of obstacles. Reach out to our team to learn how we can help you with this situation and much, much more!

Strategies for Being a Professional and Good Landlord

professional landlord baltimore, md

Being a landlord in Baltimore isn’t easy if you don’t have professional guidance. There are a lot of rules and laws to follow, and even if you’re a seasoned landlord, you can easily do something wrong if you don’t know about certain regulations or about laws that may have changed somewhere along the way. This is one reason it’s important to team up with a professional property management company when you own rental property. Most of the larger management companies in Baltimore only follow this set of processes and procedures when managing apartment buildings and single-family homes. But at Bay Management Group, we make sure to not only follow the rules and regulations, but go above and beyond to always make improvements at our clients’ properties.

Consistency is Key

If anyone has ever told you, “if I do that for you, I’d have to do that for everyone,” you’ll relate to this element. Consistency is key anytime you’re in the position of authority—that includes being a landlord. If you do something for one tenant, you have to do it that way for all tenants.

The following are some common pitfalls landlords encounter when they’re faced with the possibility of being inconsistent with the rules:

Waiving Late Fees

It can be tempting to waive a late fee because someone is facing financial hardship, but if you do so without giving other tenants the opportunities to waive their late fees, you could get into trouble with discrimination. Of course, if you let everybody waive late fees, you’re setting a bad example in a completely different way (and losing money while you’re at it).

Disregarding Background, Employment, and Credit Checks

If it’s within your policy to thoroughly screen every tenant, you need to make sure you run checks on everyone—even if one of your applicants is a friend. You’re setting yourself up for legal issues if someone feels you showed favoritism and you don’t have the background information to show why you made the decision to choose one applicant over another.

Waiving the Security Deposit

We get it; coming up with first and last months’ rent plus a security deposit can be a daunting task for many applicants. Someone may pull at your heartstrings and try to win you over with a story that seems fit for a security deposit waiver, but you can’t do it. You need to protect your investment property from any future damage that may occur. That security deposit may be the thing that keeps you in the black if the renter damages your space.

Allowing one tenant—or a small handful of renters—to bend the rules shows favoritism, which is never good for business. As a Baltimore landlord, the best thing you can do for your investment is to be consistent.

Bending Your Pet Policy

If your pet policy says no one can have pets, that means no one can have pets (properly registered service pets excluded, of course). If you only allow cats, none of your renters should have a dog. If you only allow one dog, you’re asking for trouble if one of your other tenants knows you let someone have two.

Your pet policy is important. Bending the rules on this can cause trouble down the road.

Putting off Repairs

Maybe you have a tenant who has a bad attitude. Those people are never fun to work with, but as their landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure he or she has proper living conditions. If the toilet isn’t working, or the lock on the front door has jammed, you don’t have the luxury of avoiding that unpleasant person simply because they have a rotten demeanor. You have to push through the nastiness and deliver exceptional customer service that keeps your tenant safe and as happy as possible.

Repairs can be especially difficult if they happen in the middle of the night or if you’re located too far from the property to get there at a reasonable time. Even if you’re not putting your tenants’ needs off on purpose, it can look that way if you’re not able to respond to critical matters in a timely manner. To avoid 3 a.m. mishaps that you can’t get to, it’s best to have a professional property management team on your side. Bay Management Group offers 24/7 on-call professionals who can take care of any challenge, no matter the time or urgency of the situation.

Putting off essential repairs for one tenant, while simultaneously taking care of others’ needs, is a surefire way to find yourself in a sticky situation that may end in a trip to the courtroom.

Forgiving a Month’s Rent

Maybe your bank account is doing well, and you’ve got a tenant who simply can’t swing this month’s rent. It’s a heartbreaking story, but this people-oriented business is still that—a business. Forgiving someone’s rent will certainly show favoritism and set you up for lengthy battles with other tenants when they discover someone got to skate payment-free on an entire month’s rent.

Ignoring Tenants’ Complaints

There will always be that one person in the crowd who has to complain about everything, even when there’s nothing to complain about. When that person is your tenant, your job as a landlord can be even more tedious, but you have to treat each complaint as a valid problem until you know otherwise.

Some people just want to be heard, even if they don’t have much to say. By acknowledging each of your tenants’ complaints, and treating them with respect and professionalism, your renters will respect you in return.

Maintaining and Repairing Your Property

Good property management companies know it’s critically important to reinvest in your property to keep it running at its best. Maintenance might include minor things that get inspected regularly, or it could mean fixing unexpected problems that occur without warning. Ensuring your space is attractive to new tenants when the current ones leave is important, so it doesn’t go vacant for an extended period of time.

Keep Up with Maintenance

You never want to neglect maintenance issues (small or large) because, as time goes on, your property will become unappealing to qualified renters. This will force you to either lower your rents or have someone in the property who is unqualified. Alternatively, you can fix up the property after it’s gone into disrepair so you can attract better tenants. But the amount of money you’ll need to spend after things have become rundown will be far more excessive than it would have been, had you taken the steps to incrementally make repairs and upkeep as needed. By setting budgets for repairs, maintenance, and capital expenditures each year it can be helpful in making sure your property is getting the attention it needs.

Stay Up-to-Date with Law Changes

Keeping up with the constant law changes and making sure you’re treating each tenant equally can be difficult at times. Showing favoritism is easier than you might think, and you can do it without even realize it’s happening. That’s why more and more individual investors are turning to professional property management companies in Baltimore to help manage their rental properties.

Invest in Property Management

At Bay Management Group, our team understands the importance of routine maintenance, and we’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for those mishaps that weren’t on the schedule. Whether it’s fixing a running toilet, making a drywall patch, installing new smoke detectors, changing HVAC filters, or dealing with any of the other miscellaneous task’s that properties require, we’ve got you covered. Bay Management Group provides property management Baltimore landlords trust. Get your free Property Management Analysis from BMG today!

The Best Areas to Purchase and Manage Property in Baltimore

Best Area in Baltimore

Before you invest in any rental property, it’s important to research potential communities so you not only find a property that’s great, but you also find an area that’ll be attractive to future renters. Baltimore is a city that’s rich in diversity, which means each of its communities can vary greatly from one neighborhood to the next.

If you’re on the hunt for a great investment space in Baltimore, Middle River, Essex, and Dundalk are among the best areas to purchase and manage rental properties. The tenants in these areas seem to stay in their rentals for a much longer period of time than other places around town, such as Federal Hill, Canton, or Fells Point. This is important because high turnover costs in the investment property business can quickly eat into your profits. Areas with high tenant turnover mean you’ll likely be facing the task of finding new renters every year or two. Conversely, people tend to stay in Middle River, Essex, and Dundalk rental properties for an average of five to seven years, meaning you won’t have to keep investing in advertisements, background checks, and all the other expenses that come with obtaining a new tenant every time the calendar rolls over.

It’s also important to examine the average rental prices in your potential investment areas. You’ll want to make sure you’re able to purchase a rental property at a price that makes sense without putting yourself out of business when renters see the price tag you’ve attached to the place. This is a balancing act that can take a little finesse and experience, but due diligence will definitely pay off.

How Turnover Costs Impact Investment Property ROI

If you have to turn your property over every year or two, it’s going to cost you a lot more than if you only have to search for new tenants every five to seven years. If you’ve never thought about how much work actually goes into preparing a rental for a new tenant, you might be surprised to see how long the checklist really is. Of course, each task on the to-do list is going to involve time and money.

Each time you need to rent your property you’ll need to:

  • Thoroughly clean it
  • Replace the carpets
  • Paint the interior and possibly the exterior
  • Repair damages to the walls, window coverings, appliances, and anything else that’s not in ideal condition
  • Change the locks
  • Advertise the unit
  • Run background and employment checks

Of course, this is all just standard maintenance. If you had to evict the prior tenant from your Baltimore rental property, you’re also looking at the costs associated with lengthy court processes and the cost to repair the additional damage that more than likely occurred within the property.

All of these items cost money, which, in turn, leads to less profit. It’s ideal to have tenants stay in your property as long as possible so you can forego turnover costs that eat away at your bottom line. It makes your property manager’s job easy, and it saves you a lot of money in the long run.

How the Cost of Your Property Impacts Rental ROI

The cost of your ideal property isn’t the only thing to consider. Of course, it’s an imperative piece of the puzzle, but the price alone is just one of many factors that’ll determine the ultimate value of your investment. You can purchase a rental property in Dundalk, for example, for $100,000 and rent it out for $1,100 to $1,200 a month. Essex and Middle River offer similar pricing opportunities. You should easily be able to achieve a rental price that’s well over 1% of the cost of the house.

If you were to opt for Federal Hill or Canton, however, the average purchase price is significantly higher, but the rental prices don’t correlate. For instance, if you purchase a property in Federal Hill or Canton for $200,000, you won’t be able to rent it out for $2,400. Instead, you’re most likely looking at rental rates between $1,600 and $1,700—well under the ideal 1% goal.

The cap rate is much higher in areas like Middle River, Dundalk, or Essex. Remember, it’s not just about how much the property costs and how great the neighborhood is; it’s about appealing to potential renters in areas where they’ll see the most value for their money, too.

How Communities’ Personalities Impact Investment ROI

Interestingly enough, communities have personalities. We’re not necessarily talking about areas that are kid-friendly versus those that are ultra-urban. Rather, we’re talking about the types of people who tend to gravitate towards certain areas, which ultimately determine the landscape for landlords.

As an example, if you purchase a rental property in Essex, you’ll likely find that people there are less demanding than many other areas around the city. Dundalk and Middle River also tend to be occupied by pretty low-key people who are easy to manage (as far as their rental properties are concerned). Low-maintenance renters are an investor’s dream; the less you have to send your maintenance tech to the property, the more money you’re keeping in your own pocket.

Almost any Baltimore property management company will agree you’ll see a higher ROI in Dundalk, Essex, or Middle River. These are highly desirable areas for great tenants who want to stay in their rental properties as long as possible without asking too much of their landlords. What more could you ask for?

Learning How to Ask the Right Questions

Investing in property throughout Baltimore can be tough. Even if you were born in the city and know the neighborhoods inside and out, the game changes when you’re ready to be a landlord. There are nuances involved with investment property you’ve surely never thought about before. It’s important to ask property management companies in Baltimore which areas they would buy property in if they were using their own money. Let the answer be your guiding key as you decide on the right property. Bay Management Group believes Dundalk, Middle River, and Essex will give you the highest ROI on rental properties across the greater Baltimore region.

Bay Management Group is Baltimore’s go-to resource for property owners who want to make the most of their investment. Whether you already have your heart set on a rental property in Middle River, or you’re just not sure where to look right now, our experts will be happy to offer our guidance. Reach out to our team to learn how we can help you achieve positive ROI with our dedicated team of property managers and outstanding customer service!

Upgrades to Your Rental Property That Will Help Increase Rent

Rental Property Upgrades

Making your rental property attractive to tenants can be tricky. Not all potential buyers look for the same features and characteristics when viewing a potential home. For example, some may like hardwood floors while others may like tile. And some buyers may want an open concept while others like walls to designate where each room starts. But there are some factors that every buyer will in fact look for when searching for the right place to rent. To start, you need to present a clean, pristine rental that’s attractive and functional, so any potential tenant can easily visualize themselves in the space. The more beautiful your space, the more likely renters will stay for an extended period of time, which can lower your turnover costs and save you money in the long run.

When it comes time to upgrade your rental property in Baltimore, there are tons of options; some of them should be standard each time you’re ready to bring new renters in, while others are added amenities you may not have otherwise considered before we offered these tips and tricks. Installing new carpet, painting the walls, ensuring the shutters are in working order, landscaping the outside, and staining the deck are all part of normal turnover maintenance. However, there are a few rental property upgrades beyond these that will help increase the amount of money you’re able to get for your investment.

Here’s a look at the best upgrades for rental properties:

Making Life Easier for Your Renters: Adding a Washer and Dryer

If your rental property doesn’t have a washer and dryer, consider installing them. Don’t gaff at the initial expense. Sure, it can cost you $3,000 or $4,000 to purchase the equipment and run the appropriate lines so it’s installed right and functioning properly, but you’ll be able to charge another $65 to $75 a month simply because you offer your tenants the ability to do their laundry in the comfort of their own home. That means your return on investment will be about 20%.

Try and find an ROI even close to 20% in today’s market – go ahead, we challenge you! Newly constructed apartment buildings are being designed with washers and dryers built right into each unit. To stay competitive, you have to think about the things other landlords are offering tenants who might otherwise consider renting your property. For a lot of Millennials, not having a washer and dryer is a deal-breaker when they’re looking for places to rent.

Remember, you don’t have to have a huge space to install a washer and dryer. Having a hidden space like a closet with a stackable unit can do amazing things for your monthly income – and there are plenty of compact washer and dryer units out there for you to pick from. Also try to find ways to add a bit of storage nearby so your future tenants can see how easily accessible their laundry detergent, bleach, and other clean-clothes essentials will be when they move into your space.

From our analysis of the Baltimore rental market, we advise upgrading your rental property to include a washer and dryer.

Adding Space Below the Surface

Finishing the basement is something a lot of property owners and investors put on their to-do list, but it often doesn’t get done due to the time and money involved. Again, it’s not just about looking at the initial cost because that certainly can be steep. What you need to understand is how much more rent you can charge once the project is complete, which, in the end, will give your money back to you many times over.

Let’s say you’re able to finish your basement for $10,000. You then charge an extra $125 per month to the lucky tenants who now get to occupy this grand space. That means you’re getting a 15% return on your investment. You won’t be able to find this kind of return elsewhere.

Prospective renters often see finished basements as a third or fourth bedroom. They add tremendous value. As an added bonus, besides being able to charge higher rent while you’re using this as an investment property, you’ll be able to sell it for significantly more money when you’re ready to put it on the market.

At Bay Management Group, we’ve seen this situation play out over and over again. It’s much easier to rent out investment properties that have finished basements than those that don’t.

Making Life Easier for Your Renters: Adding a Dishwasher

While it’s true that dishwashers and garbage disposals were at one point luxuries to renters, those days have changed. People expect to see these items in the places they’re considering nowadays, and if the property doesn’t have them, they’ll likely move on.

Adding a dishwasher and garbage disposal are always at the top of the list when it comes to upgrading a rental property to maximize the amount a landlord can charge. You might be surprised to find that it’s actually quite simple to install a garbage disposal, and the process doesn’t cost a ton of money. It can also be somewhat inexpensive to add a dishwasher if you do a little research ahead of time. You might need to take out an extra kitchen cabinet to make the dishwasher fit, but the addition can make a world of difference to a family that enjoys taking advantage of homemade meals.

The Great Takeaway

At Bay Management Group, we’ve seen it all. From our experience, these three improvements will drastically help increase the rental price of your property. We believe most property management companies in Baltimore would also agree. With tenants demanding more and more out of their landlords, these few simple items can help keep your property in high demand without draining your wallet dry.

There’s never a wrong time to upgrade a vacant space. If you’re just now shopping around for an investment property, take these tips into consideration. Picture what each potential space will look like when you make these upgrades and factor in the cost while your Realtor takes you on property visits. Make sure you shop around so you find a place that makes sense for your budget, time constraints, and other investment conditions.

If you already own investment properties, make a list of the upgrades you’d like to do when your renters move out. If you’re already making money on an occupied property, this is a great time to shop around and talk to contractors, so you can determine how much your changes will cost you when your property becomes vacant. You never want to rush into any sort of renovation, no matter how small it may be, so take advantage of the time given to you by doing your research before you’re ready to go to build.

It’s also smart to network with other area landlords or ask your property management company if you can see some of the units they’re currently advertising. Getting a firsthand look at how other landlords have upgraded their spaces can spark ideas that you might not have previously thought of. Be sure to take pictures when something strikes your interest and take time to browse online for great deals you might miss if you wait too long.

Are you trying to find the right tenants to fill your rental property’s space and feel like you’ve hit a crossroads? Bay Management Group knows how to attract top renters all over Baltimore. Thanks to our team of 24/7 on-call property managers and a team of advertising experts that know how to drive attention to great rental properties, your search for assistance is over! Get your free Property Management Analysis today!

Everything a Renter Must Know

Baltimore Renter Checklist

It’s exciting to find a new apartment! You’ve searched high and low to find a spot that fits your personality and lifestyle needs. You’ve got the cash, envisioned the places where you’re going to put furniture in your new space, and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line. But wait! Before you sign your life away on your next lease, there are a few things you should know, especially if you’re a first-time renter.

When you’re a first-time apartment renter, it’s easy to get lost in the excitement, but don’t forget that there’s a lot of responsibility that comes alongside the signing of a lease agreement. It’s essential that you read everything in your lease, even if it seems dry and boring. Everything in that document is critically important, and there are a few details you’ll want to make sure you pay specific attention to.

To help you out, we decided to create a first-time renter checklist.

1. Understanding How Much You’ll Have to Pay

At first glance, most apartments seem to tell you exactly how much you’ll need to pay if you live there. You’ve budgeted XYZ dollars, and the apartment only costs XY dollars, so you’re saving Z. Yay, right?

Not so fast.

Have you asked about utilities? How much will your electric bill be? Do you have to pay extra if you have pets?

The list price of many apartments is only face value. You have to do a little investigating to see what you’ll really be paying.

  • Call the electric company. Ask what the average monthly electric bill has been for your address in the past three years. This will give you a good idea of the extra amount of money you’ll need to pay above and beyond your monthly rent to stay warm and cozy or cool and comfortable, depending on the season. You might find a spot that includes utilities in the price of your rent, but if that’s the case, it’s still best to know upfront so you’re not caught by surprise later on.
  • Ask about upfront costs. Rent is just the beginning. When you’re first signing onto a place, you’ll be faced with more expenses than your monthly payment. It’s best to have a couple months’ rent saved up to cover the upfront costs of renting, which may include first and last months’ rent, security deposits, application fees, and other miscellaneous costs. It’s important to understand the total cost of your application before signing day so you’re not caught off guard with unexpected expenditures.
  • Find out about other expenses. You’ll probably want internet access, so you should factor that cost into the price of your new rental. What about renter’s insurance? You’ll need that, too. As you figure out your budget, don’t forget that you have normal expenses like food, car insurance, and gas, which aren’t going to go away. You need to make sure your budget accommodates the stuff you’re already used to—like eating.

2. Looking Over the Lease

It’s imperative that you understand everything that’s in your lease. Don’t feel rushed or like you need to know what everything in your paperwork means when it’s set in front of you. Ask your landlord questions anytime you’re unsure about what something means. It’s their job to explain things to you if you’re not certain about the agreement. Be sure to ask your landlord to point out any charges you’ll be incurring above your normal rent. Your lease should clearly spell out additional expenses, such as:

  • Pet fees
  • Trash fees
  • Water bill fees
  • Amenity fees

By talking with your landlord about your lease from the beginning, you’ll have a better understanding of the fees (and potential fines) you’ll be facing after you move in. This is also a great opportunity to open discussions, so you fully understand what’s expected of you when your lease is finished, particularly if you won’t be renewing when the term is complete.

3. Getting Acquainted with the Lease-Break Fee

Stuff happens in life, and, sometimes, we find ourselves needing to move on from our current situations. Perhaps you find yourself with a roommate who’s not a good fit for your personality. Maybe you get a job across the country that requires relocation. Even if you don’t anticipate leaving your new apartment before the lease is up, it’s important to understand how much you’ll have to shell out in the event you do need to break your lease early.

Here are a few things to ask your landlord before you commit to your rental clause:

  • How much notice will I have to give you before the lease automatically renews? This is important because, even if you’re staying in the same city, you might choose to find a different apartment when your lease is up, for any number of reasons. If you don’t give notice within the timeframe specified on your lease, you could be subject to expensive penalties when your lease rolls over if you choose to go elsewhere. You might even have to pay a whole year’s rent if you intend to move out after the end of your initial term.
  • What happens if I get a job somewhere else? Some landlords will allow you to sub-lease your apartment, which means someone else takes over the term of your lease. Others will not. Some landlords may even allow you to break your lease if you can prove you’re doing so because of occupational requirements. This is an important distinction to understand upfront because you could wind up in an expensive situation if you choose to sublet your apartment outside of the boundaries of your lease agreement.

Even if you don’t plan to leave, know what your options are. A lot can change in a year or two, and you want to be armed with all available options, should something alter your current plans.

4. Finding New Reasons for Photos

Selfies in your new apartment are probably second nature in this day and age, but there’s a better reason to put that shutter to work. Make sure you take tons of pictures of any damage or distress to the property as soon as you move in. Your landlord will likely charge you for those damages if he or she doesn’t know they existed when you got there. Put that camera on your phone to use and document anything you might be charged for when you move out. Send those photos to your landlord as soon as you can and keep them in a time-stamped folder for your safe-keeping, in case you ever need them.

Here are a few examples of things you should look for:

  • Stains on the carpet
  • Marks or scratches on the floor
  • Marks on the wall
  • Damaged blinds

Many landlords will have you fill out a move-in report where you can outline these types of damages on official letterhead, but it’s important to be prepared if a checklist isn’t provided to you.

5. Knowing What the Lease Actually Means

First-time renters sometimes have buyers’ regret (or renters’ regret, as the case may be) because they didn’t truly understand the rules of the decisions they’ve made. You don’t want to sign up for something, only to find out too late it’s not what you bargained for. It’s absolutely imperative to read the entire lease and understand exactly what each section is telling you before you sign it. Otherwise, you could cost yourself thousands of dollars throughout the duration of your lease.

6. Finding Furniture That Fits

There are a few things many first-time renters don’t realize they need to put on their apartment-hunting checklists until they find out the hard way. Of course, you’ll need furniture, but how will you get it? Will the furniture you currently own fit into your space? Don’t just think about the area where it will ultimately reside (although, that’s certainly an important factor). You also need to take entryways, elevators, stairwells, and hallways into consideration. If you’re sofa’s too big for the move, your entire aesthetic could go bust very quickly.

It’s important to take measurements before moving day to ensure your furniture actually fits inside your apartment.

7. Asking About Move-In and Move-Out Policies

A lot of first-time renters don’t realize there are usually rules around move-in and move-out. You might only be permitted to move on certain days of the month or week, and the times are usually restricted to specific hours during the day. Make sure you know this information in advance, so you can properly plan when the moving truck should be there. Otherwise, you could incur penalties if you move outside of a permitted window, or you may find yourself sitting around for extended periods of time as you wait for the approved time period to roll around.

The same goes for move-outs. Make sure you’re all set up and ready to go when your move-out day arrives. Being unprepared in an apartment full of boxes is no fun, especially if you find yourself in a rushed situation.

8. Knowing About the Parking Situation

If you rely on public transportation to get around, you can skip this one, but if you drive a vehicle, it’s important to find out about the parking situation before you find yourself endlessly circling the block for a spot. A lot of people who have relied on their parents’ driveways find a rude awakening when they realize that luxury doesn’t exist everywhere. Will you have an assigned spot? If so, will you have to pay for it? If street parking is the only option, how difficult will it be to find a spot on a regular basis?

It’s also important to know what the street parking rules are so you avoid expensive parking and street sweeping tickets.

If you’re ready to sign your first least—whether you’ll be a first-time home renter or signing on the line for your first apartment—it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you make a commitment. Bay Management Group has everything you need to be sure you’re safe and secure as a first-time renter. If you have first-time renter questions, we’re here to help. If you’re looking for a place to rent, we’ve got you covered. Simply head to our website, browse our available rental properties, peruse our helpful FAQs, or contact us today.

What Are Tenants Looking for In a Rental Property in Baltimore

Couple in house

When looking for a rental property in Baltimore, prospective tenants have many decisions to make. Along with what the interior of the unit looks like and which amenities are available, people also want the exterior of the building to look nice, for common areas to be well-kept and welcoming, and many have a preference whether the property is professionally managed or not. In other words, landlords must go beyond hardwood flooring for a rental property and other rental property trends, and instead must give new tenants a look into the whole package.

What Do Tenants Want in their Units?

When it comes to rental property upgrades, kitchens and bathrooms are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Nearly every tenant will appreciate a recently renovated space in these rooms, and many renters are looking for top-of-the-line finishes such as granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. Smart appliances and features such as smartphone integration are also making their way to the top of tenants’ wish lists. The good news about these upgraded appliances is that you’ll be able to keep tabs on maintenance and troubleshooting issues which can make some management tasks a bit easier.

When considering upgrades for your rental unit, budgeting for washers and dryers in each unit will help keep your vacancies down. Nearly all new construction is including these appliances in each unit rather than a community laundry space or no laundry room at all. Busy lifestyles and tight schedules mean trips to the laundromat or shuffling heavy baskets down to the basement are becoming a thing of the past.

Finish off the rest of the space by considering the best paint color for a rental property such as neutral grays, tans, and creams. Stay away from bold colors that can interfere with a tenant’s personal taste or worse, a stark white that can turn any rental unit into a cold, institutionalized space. Pay attention to places where you can add creative storage solutions, too—especially if your rental space is on the quaint size. Renters appreciate having a place to put all of their belongings that keep them out of plain view, and kitschy creativity can win you big points when you unveil hidden gems and unexpected storage spaces.

Your Property’s Exterior

Safety, security, and a clean building in good repair are what today’s tenants are looking for. Single-family homes do not need to have extensive landscaping with a hefty maintenance bill, but the lawn should be in good shape and plants, bushes, and other greenery should be regularly trimmed and maintained. Siding should be clean and free from major damage and the entire exterior should be free from chipped paint and other eyesores.

Multi-family properties should be in the same condition as single-family homes, but a little extra attention should also be directed to common areas. Dirty, aged carpeting, dingy and poorly-lit hallways, and unwelcoming entryways are a quick turn-off. Instead, invest in these spaces so they are fresh and include security features such as cameras and bright lighting.

It’s important to maintain proper upkeep on your property not only to ensure it’s aesthetically pleasing to potential renters, but also to ensure the bones and structure of your space stay healthy. For example, it’s best to have your roof professionally inspected at least once a year, preferably twice. Doing so will ensure your tenants aren’t caught off guard with leaks, mold, and mildew that usually occur when roofs aren’t properly maintained. Catching this type of situation before it erupts into a problem can save you tons of money down the road, both in the cost of repairs, as well as replacing any damaged property your renters would suffer.

Neighborhood Considerations

When searching for a property to purchase as a rental, spend extra time looking into the neighborhood of the building, as it’s a critical element for most renters–especially those of the younger generations. Millennials, in particular, want friendly, walkable neighborhoods with plenty of amenities nearby. Destinations with casual and trendy dining, nightlife, and dog-friendly parks are a must for happy tenants, as well as plenty of shopping options, especially for staples such as groceries, pharmacies, and clothing. When possible, people would rather not get into their car and drive–especially city dwellers who don’t want to fight with parking and traffic. Up-and-coming neighborhoods can obviously bring with them outstanding returns on investment if you get in at the right time and know how to navigate. Bear in mind, however, that there’s a fine line—at least in the eyes of renters—between still-too-dangerous to inhabit and soon-will-be-trendy. You don’t want to dump all of your money in a neighborhood that won’t be awesome for two more decades, but you need to find a way to fit into the scene while changes are still occurring. If you do it right, you’ll attract a specific type of tenant who’s drawn to that exact type of lifestyle.

For buildings you already own, there’s not much you can do about the neighborhood, but consider who you’re marketing to when trying to fill vacancies. Suburban locations that demand at least one car per household may not be very attractive to younger individuals or working couples. Instead, those neighborhoods may be more appealing to families and people who are already accustomed to this lifestyle.

Beyond Appearances

The interior of your rental unit may be a primary concern for your prospective tenants, but it’s far from their only consideration. While you want to invest the time and budget on upgrades, repairs, security, and cleanliness inside your units and buildings, the exterior factors will also be important for a renter’s final decision. In fact, if the outside looks like it comes from the pages of a horror novel, nobody’s going to care what it looks like inside; many prospective tenants may opt out of even entering your apartment in the first place.

Make sure you’re doing as much as you can to improve the factors you can control such as lighting, security, paint, and repairs and that you’re marketing to the right audiences for elements you cannot control such as neighborhood amenities and walkability. The right marketing will bring perfect tenants to your front door. Poor marketing will just waste valuable time and resources on people who aren’t likely to be interested in the property you’re offering anyway.

Marketing to prospective tenants is as much an art as it is a science. If you’re not sure how to get the right renters’ attention, don’t spin your wheels on stuff that may not work. It’s best to invest in a professional property management firm that speaks the marketing lingo your future tenants are looking for.

Are you a landlord who’s trying to attract the right tenants to your rental property? Bay Management Group specializes in tenant screening to ensure the best and brightest rental candidates arrive at your door. Our full-service suite of property management services includes marketing our clients’ rental properties, identifying top potential tenants, and taking care of your renters’ needs with our team of 24/7 on-call property managers. Ready to see why we’re all the buzz in the Baltimore rental market? Start with your free Property Management Analysis today!