Thursday, January 24, 2019

Complaint hotline for short-term rentals fields 20 calls in Breckenridge in its first weeks

The mayor of Breckenridge has the number programmed into his smartphone, but it was one of his peers on town council who had to use it first.
A new 24-hour complaint hotline that allows people to phone in complaints against short-term rentals operating in Breckenridge and Silverthorne has not gone unused since it went live at the beginning of the year.
With the number — 970-368-2044 — being so new, the data is only starting to materialize. Still, it's the first read on how well the new soon-to-be countywide hotline is working.
"One of those noise calls is mine," Breckenridge Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said Tuesday. "I had to use (the hotline) a week ago Saturday on a new short-term rental in our neighborhood and a very loud, obnoxious barking dog that was running all over the place — and it worked."
So far, there have been just under 20 calls in Breckenridge, said Brian Waldes, the town's finance director. Most have been over noise, and all of the complaints have been addressed.
The hotline is part of a sweeping series of new regulations across Summit County with Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and the Summit County commissioners all moving on new rules for short-term rentals operating in their jurisdictions in recent months. While the new rules aren't universal across the county, each government is requiring that a responsible agent address complaints generated by short-term rentals within an hour. In Silverthorne, the agent has only 30 minutes to address the complaint between the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Because Breckenridge and Silverthorne were the first to act, their short-term rules went into effect at the beginning of the New Year. Recently approved regulations on short-term rentals in Dillon, Frisco and unincorporated Summit County will take effect later this year.
In Silverthorne, the hotline received two noise complaints over the holidays, but it turned out both of those addresses were actually in the Wildernest neighborhood, which lies outside town limits.
Because the homes were outside Silverthorne's jurisdiction, the calls were relayed to the non-emergency dispatch line of the Summit County Sheriff's Office, Silverthorne director of finance Laura Kennedy said via email.
She added that town staff who've been tasked with ensuring short-term rentals fall in line with the towns' and county's new rules met with dispatch before rolling out the new hotline. At this point, the calls that make their way to dispatch are still being handled by police, she said.
Breckenridge has had a few issues with the contract information it provided the call center, leading to some calls getting forwarded to dispatch, Waldes said. The goal of the call center is to avoid that, and Waldes said they've fixed the problem.
"If that's our worst stumble out of the gate, I'll be pretty happy with that," he told council Tuesday night.
Once the county and all municipal jurisdictions are on board with the complaint hotline, town officials will meet with dispatch again to determine whether they need to make any changes to the procedure, while also looking into co-op advertising to better inform the public about the new complaint hotline, Kennedy said.
Both Silverthorne and Breckenridge have been working to ensure residents are aware of the complaint hotline and how it works. Silverthorne put out an informational flyer in utility bills sent out in early January, and Breckenridge has been making similar efforts to get word out.
Communication and knowledge are a key, and it appears word about the hotline is making its way to locals.
Councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence said she was visiting friends on Peak 8 in Breckenridge last weekend when an illegally parked car at a short-term rental was blocking a snowplow from getting through. Lawrence said her friends called the hotline and were presently surprised how nice the person who answered the phone was.
It took an hour and a half to resolve the parking issue, Lawrence added, but it did get addressed. That raised at least one question for town manager Rick Holman, who noted that Breckenridge's new rules dictate these issues must be handled more quickly.
"It's still a problem, I think. The rules say an hour," Holman replied before saying that tracking exactly when complaints are phoned in and then not resolved will be something the town needs to focus on as staff look to enforce the new rules, multiple violations of which can lead to an owner losing his or her business license.
Where the towns had to rely on anecdotal stories about individual experiences with short-term rentals before the complaint hotline, staff can now get the calls and type of complaints being levied against the units on a daily basis.

Monday, January 21, 2019

What Are The Benefits of Using a Property Management Company?

A competent property manager can add significant value to your investment, which is why many seasoned real estate investors will tell you that a good management company is worth their weight in gold.Here are a few ways that a good property manager earns their keep:

Higher Quality Tenants
Think of tenant screening as the moat and draw bridge around your castle. It is certainly possible to get a bad tenant out of your home once they are in, but its a real hassle and you are so much better off never accepting them in the first place. A thorough screening process results in reliable tenants that:
  • Pay on time
  • Rent longer
  • Put less wear and tear on the unit
  • Generally cause less problems
An experienced property management company has seen thousands of applications and knows how to quickly dig for the real facts about candidates and analyze that information for warning signs. By allowing a management company to handle the screening, you will also be shielding yourself from rental scams directed at owners, and discrimination lawsuits resulting from an inconsistent screening process. This kind of experience takes time, and in so much as it means avoiding bad tenants, scams and lawsuits it is arguably one of the most significant benefits a property management company will provide.

Fewer Costly and Time Consuming Legal Problems
Veteran landlords know it only takes one troublesome tenant to cause significant legal and financial headaches. A good property manager is armed with the knowledge of the latest landlord-tenant laws and will ensure that you are not leaving yourself vulnerable to a potential law suit. Each state and municipality have their own laws, these plus federal law cover a number of areas including but not limited to:
  • Tenant screening
  • Safety and property conditions of the property
  • Evictions
  • Inspections
  • Lease addendums
  • Terminating leases
  • Handling security deposits
  • Rent collection
Avoiding a single lawsuit can more than pay for the property management fees, and spare you time and anguish.

Shorter Vacancy Cycles
A property manager will help you perform three critical tasks that affect how long it takes to fill your vacancies:
  • Improve and prepare the property for rent - A property manager will suggest and oversee cosmetic improvements that maximize revenue.
  • Determine the best rent rate - Too high and you are stuck waiting, to low and youre losing money every month the tenant is in the unit. Determining the optimal price requires knowledge of the local market, data on recently sold comparables, and access to rental rate tools.
  • Effectively market your property - An experienced property management company has written hundreds of ads and understands what to say and where advertise in order to get a larger pool of candidates in a shorter period of time. Additionally because of their volume they can usually negotiate cheaper advertising rates both online and offline. Lastly, they are familiar with sales and know how to close when they field calls from prospects and take them on showings.

Better Tenant Retention
While its easy to see the effects of lost rent, there are other equally serious problems with a high tenant turnover rate. The turnover process involves a thorough cleaning, changing the locks, painting the walls and possibly new carpet or small repairs, not to mention all the effort associated with marketing, showing , screening and settling in a new tenant. This is a time-consuming and expensive process that can often be averted by keeping tenants happy and well cared for.
A good property management company will have a time-tested tenant retention policy that ensures happy tenants with lengthy stays in your properties. These kinds of programs require a consistent, systematic approach, which is where a good property management company will shine.

Tighter Rent Collection Process
The way you handle rent collection and late payments can be the difference between success and failure as a landlord. Collecting rent on time every month is the only way to maintain consistent cash-flow, and your tenants need to understand this is not negotiable. By hiring a property manager, you put a buffer between yourself and the tenant, and allow them to be the bad guy who has to listen to excuses, chase down rent, and when necessary, evict the person living in your property.
If you let them, your tenants will walk all over you. They have to be trained to follow every part of the lease or deal with the consequences. Property managers have an advantage because tenants realize that they, unlike the owner, are only doing their job and are obligated to enforce the lease terms. Many property managers will tell you that it is considerably easier to manage other people's units rather than their own for this reason.
Regarding evictions, there are strict laws concerning the eviction process, and doing it wrong, or trying to evict a "professional tenant" can be a MAJOR fiasco. A good property management firm knows the law and has a good process for obtaining the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Never having to handle another eviction can be a compelling reason to consider hiring a property management company.

Assistance with Taxes
A property management company can help you understand which deductions you can claim, as well as organize the necessary forms and documentation to make those claims. Additionally, the property management fees themselves are also tax deductible.

Lower Maintenance and Repair Costs
Good maintenance and repairs keep tenants happy and preserve the value of your investment which make them a very important part of land-lording. By hiring a management firm you gain access to both their in-house maintenance staff, as well as their network of licensed, bonded and insured contractors who have already been vetted for good pricing and quality work. This can translate into significant savings compared to going through the yellow pages and hiring a handyman yourself. Not only is the firm able to get volume discounts on the work, they also know the contractors and understand maintenance issues such that they are capable of intelligently supervising the work.

Increase the Value of the Investment
Preventative maintenance is achieved through putting systems in place that catch and deal with maintenance and repair issues early on, before they grow into larger more costly problems. This requires a written maintenance check program, detailed maintenance documentation and regular maintenance visits. The management firm can also offer you suggestions and feedback on upgrades and modifications, both how they will affect the rent you can charge, as well as their impact on maintenance and insurance.

Personal Benefits for Owners
  • Less stress - Avoid having to deal with middle of the night emergencies, chasing down rent, evicting people from your property, tenants who wreck your property, rental scams, lousy vendors, piles of paperwork.
  • More freedom - Live and invest wherever you want with the constraint of needing to be near your properties. Additionally you can live and travel without the requirement of always being available in the event that your tenants have a need you have to tend to. Once you have found a good management company, it doesnt matter if you live in the same state. Some landlords live in other countries and simply collect their check every month without ever seeing the property.
  • Free up more of your time - Time is money, and for many investors, their time can be more profitably spent in areas other than servicing their properties. When you focus on asset management youre working ON your business, when you manage your own properties you work IN it. Additionally you have more time to spend with family or friends doing things you enjoy.
A Final Thought
Of course, this is an ideal scenario.These results can only be expected if a management company is competent, trustworthy and a good fit for your property.A poor choice of a management company can produce many headaches of its own. 

Thanks and have a great day!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Five Ways to Help Your Credit
Get a credit card and keep it at 10% balance to limit ratio to maximize scores.
If your card limit is $500, the best balance to keep it at is $50 to maximize your credit scores. Credit cards are extremely important and account for 30% of your credit score.  Without an active credit card you missing a gigantic portion of your score.  At 0-7% balance to limit ratio, it is bad for your credit because the algorithm will believe there is a lack of recent revolving credit.  7-10% balance to limit ratio is the perfect balance to have without hurting your score.  10-30% utilization will make you lose 0-10% of your amounts owed/credit card section of your score.  A 30-50% utilization will take away 10-25% of your your amounts owed/credit card section of your score.  At 50-90% utilization it is like a drastic upward belt curve and eats anywhere between 25-90% of your amounts owed section.  Above 90% utilization, you are really killing your score and need to try to pay it down immediately to boost points.  Luckily credit cards update monthly and you can swing 100 points by paying maxed out credit cards down to 10% utilization in just a month.
Keep your old credit cards open forever
Whenever you close out old credit cards you are taking points away from your length of credit history.  Credit history is an average of all your open and active accounts.  Whenever you pay off a car loan, student loan, or home loan those accounts become inactive and are not calculated into the length of credit history.  The only accounts that will remain open forever are credit cards.  Make sure you use them at least every 6 months to make sure they do not become inactive.  If you ever come back to use a store card and they say they need to run your credit again since you haven’t used it for a while, think twice before you allow them to run it.  The reason is because running that credit will cause an inquiry which can cause 2-5 points deducted from your credit.  It will also cause a new credit ding of 42 points that you will slowly gain back after 90 days.  On top of losing all these new credit points, your account will be brand new and not seasoned.  This is why it is very important to use them every once in a while to keep them active.
Close out newer accounts
If you open up Macy’s or Kohl’s cards to save 10%, you can be dragging down your score drastically.  If you have a lot of old credit cards and a couple new credit cards, just simply close down the new credit cards to boost your length of credit history.  15% of your score is based off the average length of all your open and active accounts.  When you introduce new accounts it adds zero year accounts to the profile causing scores to drop significantly.
Piggy backing or Authorized Users
By adding onto relatives or significant other’s credit cards as an authorized user, you can gain a ton of credit history.  Just make sure the account has low utilization, open for a long time, and no late payments attached to the account.  You do not want to add too many accounts, because underwriters will flag that down if you are applying for a large loan by yourself.  If you have a lot of authorized users and they are on your significant others accounts that you are co-applying for accounts, then you are fine.  If all your accounts are authorized users and you alone are applying for large loans it shows to them that you have no credit that you have built up by yourself.  The most you want is 1 authorized user to every 4 accounts.
Stay on top of your bills and make sure you pay on time. 
Paying your bills on time is by far one of the most important things in building credit.  It shows everyone you have the ability to repay debt.  If you have an 850 credit score and you get one 30 day late, it can drop your score to 700.  So make sure you pay on time!  If you came back up to date next month you can achieve a 790 score, and it will start to ween off and bounce up over time.  However, you will never achieve a perfect score as long as that late is leftover on your credit score.  It will stay on lingering for seven years, so that is why it is very important to pay on time.
Five Ways to Hurt Your Credit
Paying off collections
I know it doesn’t make sense that you are punished for doing the right things…but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and you are not rewarded for doing the right thing.  A collection that is six years old and hasn’t reported for six years is only down your score 10 points.  When you pay it off, it will push forward the reporting date to today and will still be coded with a 9 coding which means it is a collection.  So doing the right thing can drop your score 40-50 points, rather than leaving it alone and only holding down the score 10 points.  When they tell you that they are going to put it as satisfied, good standing, and paid in full, none of this helps increase the score.  They use these strong adjectives to make you feel like you are going to increase your scores, rather than hurt it.  The best you can do is try to leverage your payment for a deletion letter.  Ask for the deletion letter before you pay to make sure that they will provide it.  If they can’t provide one ahead of time, let them know that if they don’t provide a letter of deletion you will negate your payment.   Unfortunately only 30% of companies will provide letters of deletions and calling on them can cause your collection to update.
Cosigning on items
A lot of times the banks will let you know that cosigning isn’t that bad and they hold the original borrower more responsible.  That is false and you are just as liable for the debt as the original borrower.  So try not to take the risk cosigning for a family member, because it can end up costing you your credit score.  By far this is one of the biggest mistakes people make, trying to help someone out by cosigning.  If you do not stay on top of a bill that you are expected to pay can cause them to default and pursue judgements against you.  You can never fight the creditor to correct the credit due to negligence on the other party because you are supposed to be monitoring all of your accounts.
Divorce Decree
Unfortunately a divorce decree does not have to be honored by creditors or collection companies.  Even if the judge stated that your ex is responsible for the debt that does not protect your credit.  The best thing you can do is have your ex refinance all the items the judge gave them, to remove your name from the loan.  You can sue your ex if you start to see late payments and collections on your credit report, but you are not going to get very far suing someone who cannot pay their bills and your credit will be shot in the end.   If the person awarded the house does not have an income, there is no possible way for that one person to refinance the property into their name.
Financing a car at a dealership
Dealerships will shotgun your information out to the auto finance companies.  Sometimes going to one dealership can cause 20 inquiries on your credit report which can cost you upwards of a 42 points loss on your creditreport.  The best thing you can do is go to a credit union or bank and try to get prequalified for a loan.  This will only be one inquiry and you will be able to take the pre-qualification into any dealership and get the same car without having to ruin your credit.  Always try to negotiate the price before you tell them you are handling the financing yourself.  They will try to charge you more if they know that you are financing yourself, because they make money off of the financing as well.
Paying Cash for Everything
The old fashioned saying is, “If you don’t have the cash for it, don’t buy it!”  That saying is great and I do agree with it…the only problem is that the credit bureaus don’t understand that.   If you do not finance anything, you will never be able to achieve a credit score.  Instead you will come up with no score at all.  In order to have a good credit score, you have to live some debt and manage it correctly.   Also the best thing is to keep a good mix of accounts.  3 installment accounts and 3 credit cards is the best mix to have.  Installment accounts are considered home, auto, and student loans.  There are a lot of people who have paid cash their whole life and because of inflation they now need to borrow money.  This is probably the most frustrating thing about credit because these are the most well qualified people without a credit score.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Complaint hotline for short-term rentals live in Breckenridge, Silverthorne

A new hotline is up and running in which people can phone in complaints against short-term rentals operating in Silverthorne and Breckenridge. Meanwhile, Dillon, Frisco and unincorporated Summit County are expected to join the fold soon.
Residents of Breckenridge and Silverthorne hoping to voice complaints about short-term rentals will want to write down this phone number: 970-368-2044.

After enacting new rules regarding short-term rentals last year, the towns are requiring the owners of short-term rentals to obtain a specific business license and list a responsible agent who can respond to complaints within 60 minutes in most cases.
To take these complaints, Summit County's towns have partnered with the Texas-based company STR Helper to create a new hotline that allows residents to report issues with short-term rentals, including things like illegal parking, piled up trash or excessive noise.
The calls are being forwarded to the company's answering center in Logan, Utah. A company representative said STR Helper has almost 90 clients, and they just sent the town of Dillon a contract on Wednesday.
While Breckenridge was the first jurisdiction in Summit County to create new rules on short-term rentals last year, others already have or will soon follow suit. The rules are an attempt to rein in the booming business involving renting out a home or room inside a home for any term less than 30 days, listings someone might find on the popular accommodation websites or
Silverthorne's ordinance technically went into effect on Oct. 24, when the town's elected leaders approved its new rules for short-term rentals on second reading, but town staff gave owners a grace period until Jan. 1 to come into compliance.

Silverthorne will begin education and advertising on the call center in the next week, according to town staff, but the hotline is currently taking complaints for Silverthorne and Breckenridge.
To file a complaint, someone only needs to call the hotline, tell the person on the other end where the rental is and give an address. The caller will be asked for a name and, if he or she wants to give one, a phone number where the caller can be reached.
The receptionist will take the complaint and give the caller a case number before trying to reach the designated agent, who will then have up to one hour to address the underlying issue that led to the complaint. That's unless the complaint comes between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in Silverthorne, in which case the agent will have only 30 minutes.
If the property turns out to not be a short-term rental, based on the severity of the issue, the caller could be referred by the call center to either non-emergency dispatch or 911, Silverthorne's accounting coordinator Matthew Farley said via email.
Dillon's new rules governing short-term rentals will take effect April 1. Additionally, Summit County approved its regulations regarding short-term rentals for unincorporated areas in the county in December. Based on the county's anticipated timeline, the new permitting system for short-term rentals will go live in late February.
The required deadline for a permit application to be submitted for any rental operating in the unincorporated areas of Summit County will be June 1 and enforcement begins June 30. The county set this timeline to let owners get through the 2018–19 ski season before enforcement of the new regulations begins.
Meanwhile, Frisco Town Council is expected to pass its new rules regarding short-term rentals on second reading next week and town staff anticipate having annual licensing terms for the short-term rentals in town running from May 1 to April 30 each year.
Frisco revenue specialist Chad Most hopes to finalize the town's contract with STR Helper by the end of the week, and he said Frisco should have online registration ready by April 1 at the latest.
"All other provisions of the new ordinance will technically be in effect upon passage, but we can't realistically enforce most provisions until that new license term goes into effect," Most said.
Frisco expects to use the same call center that Breckenridge and Silverthorne are, but Most said it doesn't make much sense for Frisco to start using the hotline until the town has a solid database of its STR properties, which town staff are going to work on with STR Helper over the coming months.
Right now, Most's best guess is that Frisco will be using the call center by May, but he will have a more complete timeline once Frisco's contracts have been finalized.
Anyone who has questions about Breckenridge's new short-term rental program can email str@townofbreckenridge or call 970-547-3101 to speak with the town's accommodations administrator.

2018 Year in Review: Officials work to get a handle on short-term rentals (No. 5)

topics occupied more local officials' time in Summit County last year than short-term rentals. After all the planning meetings, public hearings and hundreds of public comments, the new rules will take effect at different times in 2019.
The exploding industry involves people renting out their homes or room inside their homes for any term less than 30 days, just like the accommodations someone finds on websites such as or
Because Summit County is such a popular tourist destination, thousands of these rentals exist across the county. At the beginning of the year Airbnb released figures pegging Breckenridge as the second-most popular destination in Colorado behind only Denver.
Just as surprising, Keystone and Silverthorne also made the list of the top 10 destinations in Colorado for bookings through at No. 7 and 8, respectively, putting three Summit County destinations ahead of Vail, which was ranked No. 9.
Hearing of conflicts between renters on vacation and the neighbors who live here year-round, town councils in Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne and Breckenridge, along with the Summit Board of County Commissioners, all worked to enact new regulations on the booming industry in 2018.
A number of owners complained as the towns and county were weeding through draft proposals of the new rules, but elected officials refused to budge on many of the points and repeatedly framed these properties as commercial enterprises in need of greater oversight.

On one hand, town officials wanted to ensure a level playing field and rein in scofflaw rental owners who might be avoiding paying proper taxes. On the other, the same officials hoped to preserve the character of Summit County's neighborhoods and provide some relief for the neighbors who've been dealing with issues like illegal parking, piled up trash and noise complaints from the rentals.
Because each government enacted its own regulations, the new rules are not universal across the county. Some have occupancy caps while others do not, for example. Still, because the local government officials were working in concert on these regulations, they're not that far apart.
The biggest change that will take effect across Summit County in 2019 will likely be a new requirement forcing owners of short-term rentals to apply for a separate business license for each property they rent out and list "a responsible agent" when doing so.
Local governments are pooling their resources for a new countywide hotline that, once operational, will allow people to phone in complaints against short-term rentals. The designated responsible agent will then have up to one hour to address the underlying issue that spawned the complaint or risk being found in violation. Multiple violations can result in an owner losing his or her business license.
In August, Breckenridge became the first local government to pass the new rules, though the town had a head start with more short-term rentals operating inside Breckenridge than any other place in Summit County.
As a result, Breckenridge already had some rules for short-term rentals on the books, and the newest regulations were more of an update than anything else. As Breckenridge Town Council predicted, the move has created opportunities for new businesses.
Silverthorne Town Council followed suit in October, passing a series of new rules that went even further than Breckenridge was willing to. The biggest difference between Silverthorne's and Breckenridge's regulations is Silverthorne cuts the one-hour window to address complaints in half between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Dillon joined them with its own series of new rules for short-term rentals in November, Frisco officials moved to pass theirs in December and Summit County also adopted its regulations for short-term rentals on unincorporated land the same month.
"This has been tough," Frisco Councilman Hunter Mortensen said at the time. "This is one of the most thoroughly discussed and community involved issues we've had. There are things in here that I disagree with and there are many that I agree with. And I think that's the important part of our task, is representing everybody as best we can to fulfill the common good."