Why are Certified Funds required in Real Estate transactions?

Close up of hands giving house model to other hands with money.What are certified funds?  I’m buying/renting real estate and the company wants me to bring “cash or equivalent” or “certified funds.” Why can’t I just write a personal check?  The money is there!

Relax! The purpose of this blog post is meant to give a simple explanation of why “certified funds” are required in your real estate transaction and how to acquire and present them to the real estate office.

Certified funds are just that. They are a form of payment that is guaranteed (or certified) to clear, be valid, and are non-revocable.  When making certain types of transactions, such as real estate transactions, it’s required that the payment method used will satisfy the contractual obligations. To do this, certified funds will be required, usually in the form of:

Specifically, personal checks are NOT allowed, as the account may not have sufficient funds or they can be cancelled. Credit cards are NOT allowed, as the transaction may later be disputed or reversed. Checks sent by a bank bill payment service are NOT allowed, as they are the same as personal checks.

Simply put, once certified funds are issued, they cannot be recalled or cancelled by the bank.  The bank that wrote the cashier’s check or money order must by law, honor and pay the amount due in the document.  Therefore, it is the same as handing a person the equivalent amount of funds in cash.

Cash is, well, cash. It is absolute funds, and value has is transferred immediately to the holder.  There is no issuing bank to recall the funds.  It is the absolute transfer of value when given from one person to another.

1Personal checks, on the other hand, must “clear” the issuing bank before the payment is deemed absolute.  This could take as long as a week or more.

Certified funds are required because it assures that the funds are good, valid and present at the closing of the transaction and release of keys.  A closing is set for a certain day and if, for example, a personal check is presented, the company will have to wait at least 10 business days before giving the seller or landlord their proceeds.  If the seller or landlord does not receive their proceeds for weeks past the closing date, well, the parties have not really closed on the agreed upon date, right?  Therefore, keys cannot be released to the buyer or tenant. In order to ease this issue, certified funds are required so that proceeds may be disbursed to the seller/landlord, commissions to agents, etc. Real estate is a major investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and can potentially cause all parties stress; however, certified funds give the assurance that funds are good and will clear to let money and keys go to the various parties entitled.

Where can I get a certified funds?

Here are some of the top places to get a certified funds, beginning with the cheaper options, that you may use as a guide.

  • Walmart: The big-box store offers money orders from MoneyGram, a money order provider, at a cost of 70 cents each for values up to $1,000.
  • Money transfer agents: You can buy money orders from companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram at convenience stores, drugstores, supermarkets, check-cashing outlets and elsewhere. The Western Union money order fee, as an example, is around 99 cents; charges vary by location. Single money orders are usually limited to less than $1,000.
  • U.S. Postal Service: Money orders to be sent within the United States are $1.20 for up to $500; $1.60 for amounts over $500 up to $1,000. There’s one exception: Military money orders, issued by postal military facilities, are 40 cents. An international money order with a value of up to $700 costs $8.25.
  • Banks and credit unions: Financial institutions sell money orders for around $5 each, with values typically up to $1,000. They often waive fees for customers with premium accounts.
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10 Repairs That Aren’t Your Landlord’s Responsibility

53555741_s-300x200One of the benefits of being a renter as opposed to being a homeowner is that the landlord is responsible for many costly home-improvement projects, like replacing a leaky roof or updating dying appliances. But not all domestic damage is his or her responsibility. What exactly are you on the hook for? Find out which home repairs are not your landlord’s problem — and start saving up for them now.

1. Replacing light bulbs, batteries, and HVAC filters

The landlord can’t control how much you run the lights, so replacing bulbs when they burn out is your responsibility. The same may be true for replacing batteries where necessary, including those in smoke and CO2 detectors, which should be outlined in your lease so that there’s no confusion about who’s supposed to keep up with home safety. Many leases will also require tenants to replace air filters in HVAC systems on a regular basis (ideally every three months, but landlords often supply the filters).

2. Unclogging backed-up drains that you caused

Here’s what I’ve learned from personal experience: Don’t put egg shells or potato skins in the garbage disposal if you don’t know how to unclog the sink. Otherwise, it’ll cost you a visit from the plumber, because this is definitely not your landlord’s problem. Same goes for the toilet — you do the crime, you do the time. Unclog it yourself or call someone ASAP before the problem turns into more damage from overflowing water and other “stuff.”

Practice other considerate grooming habits, too — like cleaning your hair out of drains to keep pipes in working order. If your landlord has to come over to do this for you, he or she has every right to tack an extra fee onto your rent that month.

3. Certain pest infestations

Assuming that you’re moving into a rental unit that doesn’t have any existing vermin problems (you should verify this independently before signing a lease; don’t just take the landlord’s word for it), you may be responsible for any rodent or bug infestations that occur after you move in. Be sure to check the terms of your lease as well as any state-specific laws regarding pests such as bedbugs.

Certain living habits, like leaving old food out or failing to regularly take out the trash, can attract ants, cockroaches, or even rats. If your landlord finds you responsible for the infestation, you will likely have to pay up to get rid of the problem.

Other bug or rodent infestations can happen naturally. Termites, for example, can infest any building regardless of your living habits. In this case, it’s on the landlord to get an exterminator.

4. Lawn care and snow shoveling at single-family homes

Unless your landlord has agreed to handle the mowing and snow shoveling in the single-family home you’re renting, you’ll need to get out there yourself. While you can let the lawn go for a little while, you’re legally required to have your sidewalk shoveled within a few hours after a snowstorm ceases. Fail to do it and you could face fines from the city, which also will be your responsibility. If you live in a multiunit dwelling, however, the landlord generally takes on this responsibility him or herself or hires someone to do it.

5. Damage to property due to your negligence

Being a decent human being means taking responsibility for damage caused by your own negligence — accidental or not — and that of your family, friends, kids, and other guests you invite into the home. Your landlord is not responsible for anyone’s carelessness; you can’t punch holes in the walls during an argument and expect them to fix it. And please, don’t lie to get out of whatever it is you or they did to damage the property. Be an adult, pay for the repairs, and move on (ideally with people who don’t destroy things).

6. Carpet cleaning and repainting

One of the biggest costs to landlords is replacing carpet ruined over time by tenants. I’ve seen some of this damage myself, and I’m frankly baffled by how disrespectful some people are and the lengths they’ll go to try to skirt the cost of cleaning or replacing the carpet.

Repainting the walls their original color (if you’ve painted them) is also your responsibility. This should absolutely be a clause in your lease, but you should always contact your landlord before making any paint decisions.

7. Pet damage

I once had a tenant who was not authorized to bring an animal into my rental but did so anyway. When I questioned her about it, she denied it. I explained to her the strong smell of feline urine upstairs, at which point she revised her story to having a dog in the house briefly. I wasn’t born yesterday, lady. The dog bit was a lie, too — but it didn’t matter what kind of pet was in my house. It was unauthorized, and I passed the cleaning bill right along to her.

8. Misuse of appliances that cause them to malfunction

You break it, you buy it — that’s the rule with appliances in your rental that you’ve damaged. Whether you’ve caused a dryer fire from neglecting to clean out the lint trap, burned out motors from working appliances too hard, or caused the dishwasher to overflow because you thought laundry detergent would work in lieu of dishwashing liquid (shout-out to my ex-husband), it’s all your responsibility. If any appliance just stops working, however, it’s probably on your landlord — so give ’em a call.

9. Holes in the wall from frames and shelving that you hung

Before you can get your security deposit back, your landlord will want to make sure a few tasks are completed, including patching up holes you’ve put in the wall from frames, shelves, and other damage you may have caused to the drywall and paint from adhesives. Skip out on it and you can kiss your money goodbye.

10. Anything else outlined in the lease

Read your lease closely before signing. Most issues of landlord/tenant responsibility are outlined in the document. Keep it on hand to go over again if issues arise so you can quickly determine whether or not the burden and financial responsibility falls on you. Once your signature is on the lease, you’re legally bound to it. If you feel like something outlined should be the landlord’s responsibility, discuss it beforehand to revise if necessary. After that there’s no wiggle room — it’s either your problem or not.

13 easy ways to stay on your property manager’s good side

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Property managers would be lying if they’ve never had times where relationships with tenants have broken down. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our friendly team sees your happiness and comfort as a priority — it’s just as important to us as keeping our landlords happy.

So forget previous bad experiences, harsh landlords or unreasonable property managers. We’re extending the olive branch and starting again — these 13 tips will help you understand what we expect from you and why relationships can sometimes become strained. Help us out with these aspects and we’ll get on fabulously. Plus, we’ll be able to give you a great reference when you decide to move on from your current property.

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1. Pay rent on time.

We know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many tenants pay rent late. Want to stay on our (and your landlord’s) good side? The easiest way is to set up a direct debit and pay rent on time every month!

 

2. Be polite.

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Being polite and calm really does go a long way and we’ll always respond with the utmost courtesy too. After all, we’re at work and we want to represent our company in the best way possible. Do some property management companies suck? Absolutely.  But why would anyone want to go above and beyond for someone who is just going to yell or be impolite? When an issue seems to linger, try to see our viewpoint — we’re dealing with hundreds of tenants and landlords which require us to prioritize the urgency of each issue. Often we are addressing the issue, but simply waiting for your landlords response, approval, or payment or waiting for an opening in the maintenance contractors schedule. Honestly, we’re doing our best and also want to get things resolved as quickly as possible! A little bit of kindness and understanding will help you get the resolution you require quicker.

 

3. Listen to our instructions.

You might not believe it, but we know a thing or two about houses! Watch and listen when we show you how to trip a beaker or turn a gas valve off. Everything we say is to make your life easier and our job smoother.

 

4. Be our eyes and ears.

We have to take care of many properties and we won’t know about any problems or issues if you don’t tell us. The earlier you can inform us of a problem, the quicker we can sort it and the less likely it is to escalate.

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5. Tell the truth.

Lease terms can be forgotten or accidents can happen — we understand that kids, friends and even you can make mistakes, and telling us the truth will help us get the problem resolved as soon as possible. After many years in the business, we’ve heard all excuses and we can spot a lie a mile off.

 

 

6. Leave a message.

On the rare occasion we don’t answer your call, please leave us a message, drop us a text, or send us a quick email rather than calling again and again. We may be in a meeting, at a showing appointment, on the phone, or with other clients and unable to answer at the time. We we will respond back as soon as possible.

 

7. Understand we have a lot going on.

Just like everyone at work, we need to prioritize our workload around the urgency of each issue. If we can’t deal with your problem immediately, it doesn’t mean we don’t care — it may just be that someone else has something bigger we need to worry about. We’ll communicate with you as much as possible, so you know why we may be delayed in sorting your problem out.

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8. If you get in a bind, talk to us.

Did you lose your job? Has your flatmate gone off the deep end? We want to know what’s going on and we want to help — don’t think you’ll be in trouble! It won’t help if you put your head in the sand and hope whatever problem you have will go away. Speak to us and we’ll help you address it and get out of any sticky situation. Communication is key!

 

9. Treat the property and the people who do work for us with respect.

We love knowing that our tenants are looking after our properties — a clean tidy damage-free house at inspection time is a sure fire way to get into our good books. And there’s nothing better than hearing from an electrician, plumber or other trades-person that they encountered a lovely tenant.

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10. Work with us.

You have a busy schedule, we have a busy schedule — let’s work together and make everyone’s lives easier. Trust us, we want your problem resolved because we have a dozen more to deal with! Where you can, work with us on times and arrangements. We hate to disturb you but we’ll be done and out of your hair as soon as possible.

 

11. Trust us.

We only ever want to enter your home for a legitimate reason upon prior approval from you — we’re not going to steal your stuff or mess with your things! We have our reputation and real estate licenses on the line.

 

12. Follow the rules.

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We don’t set rules, we’re simply paid to enforce them. Each state has Landlord-Tenant Laws designed to protect the rights of both parties in the lease: the landlord and the tenant. The terms of the lease are not merely made-up by the property manager, but rather established and enforced by the state’s Landlord-Tenant Laws. The state governs when rent is due, when late fees are assessed and what amount to charge, how much notice to give before moving, a landlord’s and tenant’s responsibilities, among others. The lease constitutes a contract. When you sign a contract, you agree to all those rules, so don’t ignore them once you’ve moved in. Good tenants and good landlords respect contracts, and good property managers enforce them. After all, it’s our job to return a landlord’s property to them after a tenancy in the same way it began.

 

13. Respect your neighbors.

Try and put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes — would you appreciate a loud party the night before your final exams or a major presentation at work? No, you wouldn’t! Respecting others is a key part of living on your own so be as considerate as you can and, if you mess up, an apology can go a long way.

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With a little give and take, we can keep our relationship strong and you can have a much more enjoyable and relaxing time in your rental home. We know we’re not always perfect, but we’re just doing our job as best we can.

Source: Harcourts

South Dakota Law Alters How Landlords Handle Support Animals

1SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — New South Dakota legislation will allow landlords to evict or fine tenants who fake a disability or provide false documentation to keep a pet in their rental unit.

 

Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law this month a bill intended to prevent tenants from lying about medical conditions and claiming they have an emotional support animal. The law takes effect July 1, the Argus Leader reported.

 

A loophole in current law allows tenants to keep miniature horses, snakes and chickens as support animals, said Amy Miller, president of Charisma Property Management.

“It’s a huge problem,” Miller said. “Nobody wants to get sued so nobody’s pressing it.”

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act describes trained animals but not specifically therapy or emotional support animals. The language means that landlords can’t deny tenants from living with the animals.

 

But state law didn’t distinguish service or therapy animals either, so landlords often choose to allow them in order to avoid lawsuits.

 

“It goes unquestioned because (the law is) so ambiguous that unfortunately, I think landlords get taken advantage of,” said Paul Gourley, chair of the South Dakota Multi-Housing Association. “There’s a loophole in the system that needs to be corrected.”

The new law says landlords can request that tenants whose disability or health condition isn’t “readily apparent” provide a doctor’s note affirming their need for the service or emotional support animal.

 

University of South Dakota student Taiya Bunde has a support cat named Snuggles that she keeps in her off-campus apartment. Bunde’s psychiatrist approved Snuggles as an emotional therapy animal. The 21-year-old said she hopes “that people don’t abuse it and ruin for those that need it.”

 

Source: usnews.com

Tenant Hurricane Procedures

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Please only call Bev Roberts Rentals when absolutely necessary, so that we may keep our lines open for emergency concerns. Please refrain from calling to get storm updates. Our team is currently getting inundated with phone calls and emails. It’s not that we don’t want to hear from you, we appreciate the concern and covet your thoughts and prayers right now. We understand that everyone is worried about Hurricane Irma, but per the North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, “It’s too soon to know how North Carolina will be impacted.” Please keep in mind that this is our home too – so our team takes this very seriously! Many of us have lived here though numerous storms and hurricanes, so understand there is a “wait and see” period with hurricanes requiring patience. Do not panic when you see headlines declaring a state of emergency. The state of emergency allows us to get a plan activated and the teams and equipment in place in case the hurricane makes landfall in North Carolina.

Instead of calling, please use the links below for Bev Roberts Rentals information updates. Bev Roberts Rentals works hard to keep tenants and landlords informed – prior, during and post storm. We recommend everyone monitor Bev Roberts Rentals here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bevrobertsrentals/

Tenant Preparation Procedures:

Stay tuned to the local news media and follow all recommended precautions and instructions. We would like you to take a few minutes to review the hurricane plan we utilize.

  1. Log into your Tenant Portal and review your contact information. Please inform us if any of this information needs updating. Each manager utilizes this information to notify tenants of important changes, problems and/or issues.
  2. Take photos of the home and your contents at their current state for insurance purposes. After the storm, inspect the home for damage, take photos, and report damage to Bev Roberts Rentals. If possible, submit photos via the online Maintenance Request system.
  3. Please write down the below contact information for your property manager, and keep it in a safe place: Bev Roberts: (919) 630-3882 or bev@robertsrentals.net, Craig Brockman: (919) 609-3131 or craig@robertsrentals.net, and Nick Roberts: (919) 244-1649 or nick@robertsrentals.net
  4. Turn off main water to house if a pipe leak is noticed. If you smell gas, turn off main gas valve.
  5. Anchor or shelter outdoor potted plans, awnings, patio and lawn furniture, grills, and trash and recycling receptacles.
  6. Turn off propane tanks.
  7. Close all windows.
  8. Do not open refrigerator unless necessary. In case of lengthy power outages, remove food from refrigerator prior to spoiling to prevent odor damage. Empty ice bucket to prevent damage to floor from melting ice.
  9. Insert wedges in sliding patio doors; if not protected, damaging winds will lift them off their tracks and blow them into the house.
  10. Lower radio and television antennas, protect satellite dishes.
  11. Close all outdoor electrical outlets.
  12. Secure garage, porch doors, and storm doors.
  13. Purchase a flashlight (do NOT use candles) and extra batteries.
  14. Charge all cell phones.
  15. Unplug electrical equipment.
  16. Do NOT tape or board up windows. This can actually cause more damage to the windows or siding of the house.
  17. If you are instructed to evacuate the home by local authorities: If possible, please notify Bev Roberts Rentals, lock all doors, turn off main breaker, turn off main gas line, turn off main water supply to the home.

Why Renters Insurance Matters for Landlords

1Do you know someone who owns a house and doesn’t have homeowners insurance? Most likely, you don’t. That’s because if someone has a mortgage, their lender requires the home is insured. Which makes sense. If the house burns down, the lender’s money goes up in smoke.

 

In the world of renting, renters insurance is just as important, but few people understand exactly why.

 

Let’s start with the basics. Renters insurance protects renters and landlords.

 

For starters, renters insurance covers a renter’s personal belongings, something a landlord’s property insurance doesn’t cover. Without renters insurance, a renter would have to pay to replace everything stolen in a burglary or damaged by a fire. Renters insurance will also cover the cost to replace a stolen bicycle or laptop, even if the theft happens someplace other than home.

 

It also protects renters from liability if they accidentally damage their place. If a renter accidentally starts a kitchen fire or overfills the bathtub, with renters insurance they won’t be liable for the damages, even if they damage a neighbor’s place.

 

What many people don’t know is that the liability coverage benefits landlords, too. Without renters insurance, a landlord could be responsible for the cost of damages and repairs if their renter accidentally damages the property.

 

It’s important that renters carry renters insurance. Just like mortgage companies require homeowners insurance, most landlords require renters insurance in their leases. If possible, landlords should verify that renters have a current policy.

 

With renters insurance, both renters and landlords can relax knowing they’re covered. That means less stress all around!

 

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Is Homeownership Really the American Dream?

1Owning a home is the American dream, but far too often people jump into home ownership simply because they believe it’s “cheaper than their rent payment”. It’s important to think past this month’s cash flow when making a decision that could provoke a financial burden. For example, once you buy a house, you are stuck there. Unless you are independently wealthy, have your house paid off and don’t need the money from renting it or selling it, you are stuck in your house until you sell it. Selling a house can be a long, stressful process, even in a booming housing market, let alone a housing slump. A tenant renting on a year lease with a 60 day notice can leave at anytime with the cost of minor breach fees. For instance, a tenant who gets that golden job opportunity that requires them to relocate. Since they are a renter, all they have to do is give notice and pack their bags. Moving out of town to pursue bigger and better opportunities is POSSIBLE if you’re renting. Owning a home traps individuals to that location.

#TheAmericanDeamIsNotAlwaysADream#RentingIsSometimesBetter #Leasing#PropertyManagement