Getting the Most Out of Your Rental

Owning a decent rental property can guarantee you a steady cash flow, as long as you manage that property well.  As a landlord, you should have two goals.  Most importantly, you want to make sure your property doesn’t go down in value.  Markets may fluctuate, but you need to maintain the property’s value, and then increase it so that you can ensure that it’s always being rented out.  When tenants leave, that’s your chance to make improvements, and use your tenants’ feedback to improve where it counts.  Here are some great low-cost ways to get more bang for your buck with your rental value, based off an article I found on the real estate blog “Bigger Pockets”:

Raking leaves

Makeover the yard: When prospective renters arrive to check out a property, the outside of the building is the first thing that they see.  A neat and clean front lawn will help to create a good first impression.  If you don’t have the budget for extensive landscaping work, just upgrade wherever you can to make your lawn look tidy and presentable.  If there’s a fence around your property, make sure it looks uniform and cohesive.

house cleaning dog

Clean it well: Painting the whole exterior and interior of your property will be expensive.  Yet if you don’t have the funds to cover everything with a fresh coat of paint, a thorough scrubbing and cleaning of your property will do just fine.  You can get it done by somebody else, or you can do it yourself with a ladder, pile of old rags, plenty of soapy solution and a brush with an adjustable handle.

steam cleaner carpet

Clean the carpet: A clean carpet can give a potential tenant the feeling that they’re entering a new house, which will help you to get the rent you want.  Rent a steam cleaner to clean every inch of it; it’s a low-cost activity with a high impact on the rental’s presentation.  If you have a tiled floor, then get down on your knees and scrub it thoroughly. 

Fridge and washing machine

Inspect the appliances: Shiny and well-maintained appliances will help raise the perceived value of your rental property.  To make your appliances look good as new, buy a bottle of hard surface cleaner and shine them thoroughly.  While sprucing up a rental property is important, don’t be wasteful with your money.  

Higher demand

Create higher demand: When the demand for a commodity increases, then so does its value. To take advantage of that, invite all of your prospects to inspect the rental at nearly the same time.  When they see such a huge demand for the property, then they’ll be more inclined to pay a premium.  This can also allow you to pick your preferred tenant.


Rental application pen

Have the papers ready: When a number of potential tenants show up together, it will be hard to keep all of them straight.  Make sure you have forms and applications handy to ask each of them to fill in their necessary details and employment information.  Later on, you can use these forms to select your preferred tenant.  

Contract and pen

Document everything: Lease contracts set the stage for a healthy relationship between tenant and landlord.  These legal documents pen down the rules for both parties to follow.  Make sure that the tenant has thoroughly read the contract and understood each point.  If something could be an issue in the future, or there’s a particularly important issue, make sure you discuss it.

Available now

Be available: An unresponsive landlord is the last thing a tenant wants, so be available for your tenants and respond promptly to their calls or mails.  Being unresponsive can lead to a bad impression, that might alienate the tenant and convince them to look elsewhere.  

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Pittsburgh — Past, Future, and Livibility

As a real estate investor in Pittsburgh, Jason Cohen Pittsburgh keeps up on the seemingly endless stream of articles giving the Steel City a Top 10 rank in something or other. Our honors are eclectic — smartest, bikability, a foodie paradise, the list goes on. Since around the year 2000, Pittsburgh’s seen almost dynastic domination of the “Most Livable” rankings from various sources. The affordability of the city, coupled with all its recognized amenities consistently put it at the top. Each ranking offers different reasons, but a common theme is its fusion of past and future into a livable present, a theme of preservation and modernization that Jason Cohen Pittsburgh applies to its renovations.

The most recent “Most Livable” honor was bestowed by Metropolitan Magazine in the July, 2015 issue. Pittsburgh’s commitment to preserving its past in maintaining and reusing its historic buildings was the primary reason for this particular recognition. The article also noted the city’s record-breaking “green” space. While Pittsburgh preserves its history, it is also on the forefront of applying innovation to its space.

At Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, we operate on the same principle. We purchase older properties that have fallen into disrepair and restoring them to their previous prestige while infusing them with modern amenities and environmentally conscious features. This strategy was born out of circumstance — these properties were available for a steal and their upside was huge based on their location in otherwise thriving communities. We didn’t realize we were investing with the spirit of Pittsburgh.

Our city is the synthesis of past and future. Downtown high-rises scrape the sky from between historic stone churches that still call worshippers every Sunday. The Waterfront shopping and entertainment complex, built in the late 1990s on the site of an old steel plant, still features the iconic smoke stacks as both a decorative feature and a nod to the city’s past.

The abundance of entertainment options, the beautiful ballpark, the amenities and affordability that make it ideal for kids and retirees — these all combine to create a dynamic and livable city. We at Jason Cohen Pittsburgh believe that Metropolitan Magazine nailed it with their assessment of Pittsburgh’s unique simultaneous commitment to preservation and innovation.

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5 Great Neighborhoods in Pittsburgh

As a real estate professional with strong roots in Pittsburgh, it’s no news to me that Steel City has plenty to offer for just about everybody.  I’ve worked in numerous neighborhoods, each one with its own special “vibe” that adds to the great character and flavor of this fantastic city.  I recently came across an article that shares five great neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, and what they have to offer, listed below:

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh Highland Park

  1. Highland Park: While Pittsburgh’s a place with plenty of history, dating back to over 250 years ago, Highland Park stands out, thanks to its attractive housing stock of architectural styles ranging across decades.  The neighborhood’s titled “park” features everything you’d ever need: walking trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, a swimming pool, cycling track and even a reservoir.  Nestled within the park is one of the city’s top attractions: the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.  Since it’s so close to the zoo and park, this is mostly a quiet and residential neighborhood, that offers more racial diversity than a lot of other areas of Pittsburgh.  Its only drawback is that it isn’t terribly close to the business district.

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh Mexican War Streets

  1. Mexican War Streets: With its colorfully repainted rowhouses and the “Mattress Factory”, those more artistic home seekers are likely to be impressed by this neighborhood.  The museum and its adjacent galleries show some of the best of Pittsburgh’s budding art scene.  The rest of the city’s North Side is just a short walk away, with plenty of things to do for people of all ages and interests.  The only drawback to the area is its proximity to less-than-desireable areas.

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh Regent Square

  1. Regent Square: In the heart of Regent Square is Braddock Avenue, lined with cafes and various independent businesses.  Frick Park, the largest of Pittsburgh’s parks, borders the neighborhood.  Apart from quick access to various amenities, residents of this neighborhood are known for their very welcoming atmosphere.

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh East End

  1. East End: While East End is actually made up of many different neighborhoods, it’s the most vibrant and established section of the city, with the widest appeal.  The different parts of the East End each offer something unique: Shadyside is a conveniently-located mix of old-money homes and businesses, Squirrel Hill is a hub of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, and East Liberty is one of the hippest spots in the entire city.

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh Virginia Manor

  1. Virginia Manor, Mt. Lebanon: While living in a city with difficult public schools and a high income tax can have its downsides, Mt. Lebanon may be the best answer to these problems.  It hosts a high-achieving school system, sturdy older homes and some of the best mass transit options in the region.  The town’s “signature” neighborhood is Virginia Manor, with beautiful homes homes designed to take advantage of the region’s hilly landscape.  Its extreme walkability makes this suburb especially appealing to the more green-minded residents.
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The Greek Real Estate Situation

With Greece in economic chaos, it’s possible that the country could use some attention from real estate investors.  Since getting a mortgage in Greece is simply not an option right now, those with straight cash in hand might get a bargain on some vacation real estate in a country well-known for its tourism.  The Wall Street Journal has reported that potential residential investors on the island of Mykonos have been quietly talking about the possibilities.

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh Mykonos

The island of Mykonos has long been a popular tourist spot.

At the moment, people are mostly surveying the Mykonos market, as opposed to discussing specific properties, with limited transactions.  Nobody knows what’s going to happen next, so there isn’t much confidence as of yet.  Nonetheless, home prices on the tourist-friendly Greek islands hold a much brighter future than homes on mainland Greece, where home values have dropped consistently over the past six years without much sign of improvement.  The Bank of Greece has said that there’s been a 40% decline in home prices since a 2007 peak, although this is only based on the few transactions that have taken place, meaning that the figures could actually understate the degree of actual value declines.

Prices are currently down about 30% in Mykonos, although they’ve stabilized and even picked up during a moment of recovery last year.  The steady flow of tourists who have been seeking island rental accommodations supports prices in the market, so many homeowners are in no rush to sell.  Nonetheless, Greece could prove a viable location for real estate development.  While many potential investors might be turned off by the current economic situation in Greece, it’s made Greece much cheaper than ever before, so many tourists could be drawn to the country due to its natural beauty and currently very low prices.

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