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Budgeting for Maintenance

When evaluating a purchase and making a budget, we are often asked how much is a fair amount to budget for maintenance.

Maintenance costs typically range between $1-$3 per square foot, per year. On a 1500 square foot home, this would be $1500-$3000. Lawn and snow removal on a typical home run about $100/month.

It is also recommended that owners have in reserve 10% of the value of the home for use on capital expenses. Capital expenses include roof, siding, gutters, driveway or porch replacement. For a $150,000 home, it is wise to have $15,000 in reserve for these capital expenses.

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Peoria Remote

Working from home may be a permanent change brought on by the pandemic. Many remote workers have chosen to live in Peoria. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Cost of living – Peoria is one of the most affordable mid-sized cities in the country. The average home price is $125,700 and the average rent is $806. You’ll have more money to spend on things that bring you joy.
  2. The Commute – The average commute time is less than 17 minutes. We don’t have traffic jams. We have a bike trail and bike paths if you prefer to bike to work. Spend less time in the car and more time with the ones you love.
  3. Easy access to Recreation – The Peoria Park District is the oldest and largest park district in Illinois, it encompasses nearly 60 square miles.  The value provided to the community can be found in the ease of access to our parks and recreational programs. Evidence has shown that when people have access to parks, recreational programs and to nature, their overall physical and psychological health improves.  The District’s own local community assessment survey found that 88% of residents believe the Peoria Park District is an important community partner for community health.
  4. Natural Beauty –  Peoria’s river valley and bluffs are replete with giant oak and vibrant redbud trees.  The rolling landscape changes allow for expansive vistas.  Most famously, Grandview Drive is a destination for photo ops and tourists around the country.  Sightseers also flock to the river which is home to the bald eagle.   
  5. Travel – If you like to travel, it makes sense to make Peoria your home base.  Our new airport is a breeze to get in and out of.  It has free parking and flies nonstop to all major domestic airport hubs and many popular warm weather tourist destinations.  If trains are your thing, a short 30 minute drive to Galesburg or Normal puts you on two major national train routes.
  6. Health Care – Peoria is a leader in health care. It is home to 3 major hospitals and many specialties including St Jude Children’s Hospital, cancer care centers, eyecare specialists, surgeons, and rehab facilities.

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Who owns the properties we manage?

Our rental owners come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common: they have the ability and the willingness to keep up their property in a manner that allows us to attract and maintain quality tenants. This is what they sign off on in order to apply to have us manage the property.

Most of our owners are from Peoria and care about housing stability in our city. Some of them live out of state and some of them live in the same neighborhood as their rentals. The majority of our properties are owned by licensed real estate agents. These are people that know the laws and submit to a code of ethics that is much higher than the law. And they trust us to their higher code of ethics as well.

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Tenant Selection

When you submit a rental application, we look at the whole picture. This includes income, credit, criminal record, evictions, and past rental history. What are some reasons you may not be selected as a tenant?

1. We have a more qualified applicant

The most common reason a person is not approved is because we have a more qualified applicant. Many of our houses are very popular and we receive multiple applications. In this event, we choose THE MOST qualified applicant, but since there is only one house, it is possible to have multiple qualified applications denied because they were not THE MOST qualified.

2. Inadequate or unverified income

We want you to be making at least three times your monthly rent to ensure you can afford it. We need to verify one month’s worth of pay stubs show that your net income is at least 3x rent.

3. Poor credit

We run credit checks. The higher your credit score, the better. We pay most attention to recent unpaid bills, evictions, and high debts.

4. Landlord references

If your past landlord cannot give you a good reference, you may be denied. A past landlord may not give you a good reference if you were constantly late with payments, caused disturbances at the property, did not maintain the property well, left with an outstanding balance, etc.

5. Evictions

Having prior evictions on your record can make it more difficult for you to rent an apartment. If you failed to pay rent and were evicted, this is an indication that you are not a reliable renter.

6. Unstable housing history

The more stable your housing history, the better. If you have vacated a property prior to your lease being up, this is a red flag. This doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically rejected. If there was a legitimate reason for the gap, be sure to explain that upfront.

7. Criminal History

We run criminal background checks. Any criminal charges in which you were convicted may disqualify your application.

8. Pets

Some of our houses do not accept pets. If you have pets and are applying for a non-pet friendly home, you may be rejected on this basis.

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What Differentiates Us from the Competition?

  1. Our Commitment to our Mission of providing stable housing for our community. This means we only work with rental owners that share our values and have the willingness and ability to maintain their properties in such a way that they can attract and maintain quality tenants
  2. We are Innovators – We are constantly looking for new ways to make the rental process easier for everyone. We market our listings to the greatest amount of people, make it easy for them to view the unit, and make the application process quick and easy. In this way we’re able to connect the best tenants with the best homes.
  3. Integrity and Transparency – All of our maintenance people are third party vendors with whom we have pre-negotiated rates. We do not have maintenance on staff. This means we are not cutting maintenance checks to ourselves like many other companies do. Additionally, all of our accounting is transparent to our rental owners. They can log in to view the performance of their property anytime, in real time.

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Owner Spotlight

This week we were able to partner with Steve and Dina Herrera. Steve and Dina purchased and remodeled the home next door to them in West-Central Peoria. They did a wonderful job upgrading flooring, paint, the bathroom, and even added a deck and she-shed.

We received over 200 inquiries, 22 showings, and 12 applicants in one week. They were able to sit down and choose from several qualified applicants.

We love partnering with owners like the Herreras, who not only are working to improve their family’s financial future, but they’re doing so by investing in and improving their neighborhood. #strongtowns #strongneighborhoods

Cheers to the Herrera’s!!

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Preferred Communication Methods

Many times we are handling coordinating maintenance, inspections, meeting with owners and tenants, and showing properties. This means we are often times away from the phone. With that in mind, here is what communication works best with us:

Tenants: If you have a maintenance issue, creating a task in your tenant portal will facilitate us getting the right person to your unit faster. It also allows both parties to track the status, with time stamped entries. In an emergency or urgent situation, you can also reach us by texting our office number or webchat.

Applicants: If you need to schedule a showing, please use our scheduling function on the website. This automatically reads our schedule and gives you options for agent showings or self showings. If you want to move forward with applying, please fill out our online application. There is a $50 application fee. We will perform a credit check, background check, eviction check, and verification of income. If the property accepts Section 8, we will list that in the unit description.

Owner Inquiries: If you are interested in management or leasing services, please fill out the rental owner application and indicate your preferred method of communication. We will contact you back within the next business day.

Phone calls: We prefer to have communication in writing, such as email. But if a phone call is necessary, please schedule a call or face to face meeting through our website. Our Calendly function reads our schedules and will give you the times to choose from that work for us.

Thanks for helping us communicate better. Being efficient with our time allows us to keep costs down for both tenants and rental owners.

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Our Business Principles

1. Purpose 
We are committed to strengthening our community through stable housing. Stable housing means stable tenants and stable owner investment. We contribute to stable housing by connecting quality tenants with quality homes.

2. People First
We engage a work force of talented associates who excel as a team and are motivated by the mission and the culture, as well as compensation, in the belief that, by taking care of them, they will take care of the business, customers, suppliers, and community.

3. Perseverance
We are a resilient company that is undeterred by short term market conditions. We overcome obstacles and keep pursuing the mission indefinitely into the future.

4. Private 
As a privately-held family business, we have a longer-term view and more operating flexibility than public or exit-oriented businesses. We will never sacrifice our values in order to meet short term goals.

5. Profit 
Profit is not our #1 purpose. But long-term profit for our clients and us means we have sustainability and longevity.

6. Paced Growth 
We have the discipline to focus on long-term strategy and grow steadily and consistently each year. Our annual target for growth is 10-15%. Paced growth allows us to expand our mission without sacrificing our purpose and office culture.

7. Pragmatic Innovation
We embrace a continuous-improvement process built around taking calculated risks to innovate creatively within the constraints of the business.


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Your Housing Choice is the Biggest Part of Your Overall Finances

Financial planners often identify ways in which people are wasting money and illustrate how that money would grow if instead it was invested. The most common example is someone who spends $3.50 per day on Starbucks:

If you didn’t spend $3.50 a day on coffee, you’d save $1,277 a year.  If you invested that money over 30 years, you’d have $85,305 (assuming a 5% annual return).

While Starbucks is an easy punching bag, many of us fail to see the elephant in the room. We are penny wise but pound foolish. The biggest expense eating away at our ability to save is your home.

Let’s look at a common scenario:

Your mortgage broker tells you that you can afford a $2,500/mo. payment. You’re approved for a $300,000 mortgage.

What is the financial impact of that choice opposed to buying a more modest home, half its price?

You decide you want the biggest and best possible home, so you borrow $300,000 with a 30 year mortgage at 5% interest. Your property taxes are $10,000 per year and your insurance is $800 per year. You will pay $279,767.35 in interest over the course of the loan.

Your other more modest choice is a smaller house and $150,000 mortgage, $5,000 property taxes per year and $600 insurance per year. At the same monthly payment, you can swing a 7 year amortization. After 7 years, you will have paid $28,087.25 in interest over the course of the loan.

The total interest savings is $251,680.10. But the disparity becomes even greater if, after the loan is paid off in 7 years, you start investing your former mortgage payment of $2,120 at a 5% annual return. In 23 years, that money will grow to $1,053,991.29. After adding the interest savings and subtracting the $150,000 difference in the value of the homes, the total disparity in the two choices over 30 years comes out to $1,155,671.39.

Benefits of Strong Savings

The secret to financial freedom is not earning more, it’s keeping more of what you earn and being content with what you have. Some of the many benefits include giving more money to your church and charity, career flexibility, and being empowered to live in line with your values and not compromise your choices based on money.