In order to assist you, McGrath Real Estate Services has prepared the following checklist to help organize your transition into management and also outlines some of the things that can be done to prepare the property for the rental market. Please review and contact us if you have any questions.
PRIOR TO YOUR DEPARTURE
- UTILITIES: Please contact the utility companies and have the bills sent to our office. You should leave the accounts in your name, but change the billing address to: “in care of McGrath Real Estate” at our address (761-C Monroe St. Ste 100, Herndon VA 20170) so there is no interruption of service. If you pay online, please cancel the online payment and have bills mailed directly to our office. This step is important to allow McGrath Real Estate permission to control turning your utilities on/off around Tenants lease start/termination dates. It is normally best to contact the utility companies 15-20 days prior to your move-out. Phone, cable, and trash removal should be terminated as of your move-out date, but the following utility-services (if applicable) should be transferred: Electric, Gas, Water. Here is a list of Northern Virginia Utility Companies.
- INSURANCE: Arrange for your insurance agent to change your homeowner’s policy to a “Landlord Liability” policy (a.k.a “Fire & Liability” or “Hazard & Liability” policies) and have a copy of the policy declaration page faxed or mailed to us (your insurer will do this for you if you ask). Please refer to the management agreement for the recommended amounts of coverage and also remember to name McGrath Real Estate Services on the policy (there should be no charge for this). You are welcome to use whomever you wish, but you must get a minimum of $500,000 in coverage. Contact your insurance provider about 20-30 days prior to your move-out to initiate this process. Please note: If the house will be vacant more than thirty days, a vacancy/vandalism rider is probably required, please consult your insurance agent for details.
- CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Please notify your change of address to:
- Post Office: The post office sometimes needs several weeks advance notice!
- DMV: Get a PIN code mailed to you prior to departure so that you can renew online overseas at a later date.
- Mortgage Company: You are responsible for both your mortgage payment and your HOA/Condo association dues and should pay them directly. McGrath Real Estate Services does not handle these payments on your behalf nor can we pay them through your escrow account.
- Homeowners/Condominium Association [HOA/COA]: Same as Mortgage Company
- MARKETING YOUR PROPERTY: Host a Consultation: We suggest you do this, about 75-100 days prior to your move out, with McGrath Real Estate and discuss the marketing strategies that are right for you and your property. Let us know if we can put a sign and a lockbox on your property to try and find suitable tenants before you leave! Send us as many good digital pictures of your home as you can. Showing your property off in all seasons is helpful too – the more pictures the better! We can also arrange an appointment to take digital pictures of your home for you, but we will need several days notice.
- BEGIN MARKETING: We suggest having McGrath Real Estate advertise and market your property about 45-60 days in advance of the availability date of your property. If you intend to try to advertise yourself, please consult with a McGrath Real Estate representative – we can guide you and advise you on effective advertising medium and methods. For more information on showings instructions and expectations, please download Showing Instructions & Expectations.
- CONTACT YOUR HOA/COA: make sure your homeowners and/or condo association is aware your home will be rented out. Some have very strict rules and guidelines to be followed in addition to required addenda they will ask for of any new Tenant residing in the community.
STEPS TO TAKE WHEN HIRING McGRATH REAL ESTATE Once you are comfortable and committed to hiring McGrath Real Estate as your property manager, please adhere to the following steps to make your initial experience with us a smooth transition:
- PROPERTY MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT & LEAD BASED PAINT FORM: This must be fully executed before we can market or begin to manage the property. This form is crucial for effective and efficient management of your property. Please read through this agreement carefully, and go over some of your questions with a property manager.
- KEYS & CHECKS: Provide four (4) complete sets of keys to the property, (we can make copies for you at your expense, but we need at least one of each key!) Don’t forget 2 mailbox keys (if applicable). Please test the keys to make sure they work properly before and after making copies. Garage door remotes should be left in the kitchen drawer closest to the fridge. If you have FOB keys, please provide us with at least three (3) FOB access keys.
- ESCROW: Your management agreement requires a minimum beginning escrow account balance of $500 plus the amount you plan to spend on initial improvements and repairs. Please make the check payable to “McGrath Real Estate” to start your escrow account and initiate our services. We also need a “Voided” check for the bank account you wish us to deposit the rent proceeds into since we will be paying you electronically.
ONLINE FORMS & WEBSITE PRESENTATION Please take some time to complete the following forms, review sample lease and explore our website.
- WEBSITE REVIEW: Review our website! There is lots of helpful information and good tips for new and experienced Landlords. Stay Connected with what’s going on, whether you’re curious how our company works, want to know more about property management or are just looking for a good way to stay up to date with local news, visit our Blog!
- VIDEO TUTORIALS: We also have videos to help you in establishing expectations of what to expect in the landlord business! Here are a few that you will find most resourseful in getting the most out of your Landlord Experience – What Vacancy Really Costs, Benefits of McGrath, and New Owner Indoctrination.
- ONLINE RESOURCES: Once you have signed the property management agreement, please allow for a few days for us to initiate your account. We will provide you an on-line account name and password and basic instructions on how to review your account. Separately, we will also send you documents for e-signature through DotLoop and use Dropbox for sending inspection reports and photos among other documents.
THINGS TO DO TO THE PROPERTY — “Presentation sets Expectation!” If you properly present your home, you’ll reduce vacancy time, and help your rental price. Set the expectation of how the Tenants should care for the property.
- CHECK PAINTING: Is the paint in good condition? Have nail holes been filled? We can recommend reliable, affordable contractors. It is a great idea to record a “Paint Code Map” before you leave (which walls are painted what brand and color), for example: “Living Room is Duron Desert Brown”, or, “Dining Room is Behr Shiraz Red”. By doing this, it can sometimes allow for touch-up inexpensively, instead of repainting an entire wall because the painter has a hard time matching colors.
- GENERAL REPAIRS & CLEANING: Please make sure that all of the appliances, plumbing and electrical fixtures are in working order. If you have Quest or Polybutylene plumbing lines, please inform us and discuss remedies with a McGrath Representative. We also suggest, if possible, having all door locks and keys re-keyed to have 1 key operate all locks. Keys and locks should also always open with ease.
- PREFERRED VENDORS: You are not obligated to use contractors from McGrath Real Estate’s list of “Tried and True Vendors”. However, it is very important that proper, and clear expectations are set with any vendors you may want us to schedule with for your property. If you have contractors that you wish to enlist for your property they MUST first establish the following criteria:
- Any/All vendors must be Licensed AND Insured (and must provide McGrath Real Estate with a copy/evidence of such)
- We ask that if we are to work with vendors we are unfamiliar with, they must first read, review, sign, and return to McGrath Real Estate our “Vendor Policy and Good Practices Form”.
- SERVICE CONTRACTS: If you are electing to include HVAC service contracts, yard-care/landscaping contracts, maid-service, etc for your tenant then it is important that we are clear on what services are/aren’t provided and included for the tenants (for example: if yard care is included, does this mean just grass cutting or does it also include weeding, leaf removal and more). This is what we need from you to ensure reasonable coordination of the services you are providing:
- The vendor/contractor providing the service must meet all the criteria of “Preferred Vendors” above.
- A copy of the written service agreement contract outlining contractor responsibilities and what is included must be provided to McGrath Real Estate.
- CARPET, CHIMNEY & GENERAL CLEANING: A clean, well-maintained home will have the best chance of renting quickly on the open market. It will also attract the type of tenant that will keep it in the same condition. Carpet and chimney cleaning and a final general cleaning should be done when all of the furniture has been removed and you are ready to leave. The Lease will require the tenants to professionally clean the carpets and chimney, at the end of the Lease term, and it should be completed by a professional prior to their occupancy as well. Please ask if McGrath Real Estate can coordinate handling this task for you – it will remove some of the stress of your move, and allows us to ensure it is done to specifications for a smooth tenant move-in. Here are some recommendations for these cleanings:
- TAGGING: We will conduct a final walk through upon you vacating your home, with one of our property managers. At this walk through, the McGrath rep will provide you some hanging tags for you to label for the convenience of your tenants and contractors that may need to access them. Please tag or mark:
- Main Water Shut Off Valve
- Hose Bib Shut Off Valve
- Fuse Boxes or Circuit Breakers
Any unusual quirks to the property should be communicated to us, a written report or instructions is very helpful and necessary. If you need hose-bib tags, McGrath Real Estate has them for your use.
FINAL CHECKOUT Two to three weeks in advance of your departure, please schedule an “owner move-out walk through” so to go over final instructions with you after you move out and home is vacant and ready for occupancy. Things to Leave IN the Home:
- Filters: Please leave a supply of filters to encourage tenants to change the filters on a monthly basis (or recommended replacement time frame based on the filters you purchase). If changing the filter involves removing the front furnace panels, you may want to consider having a filter slot installed. Typically, the more difficult it is for tenants to access, the less likely they are to change them.
- Smoke Detectors: Please make sure that all smoke detectors are working and that there is at least one detector per level of your home. Leaving behind fire extinguishers is a good idea as long as they are newer and fully charged.
- Already stocked light bulbs specific to the light fixtures you have at the property.
- Home Owners or Condo Association documents (so we can require the Tenant to abide by the association regulations) and appliance manuals (leave in kitchen drawer).
- Garage door remotes should be left in the kitchen drawer closest to the fridge.
- The best thing to leave behind for your Tenant(s) is a clean house in good repair with all appliances working. A small “Welcome” gift basket is also a nice touch!
Things NOT to leave in the home:
- No personal property should be left behind including curtains!!!!!! Double-check that you are not leaving behind any personal property or other non-fixtures. You are now running a rental business! It would be a shame to start your business with a poor impression on your first customer (the Tenant), and/or to have to pay someone to remove miscellaneous items left behind because you didn’t have time to get to it. This includes furniture, grills, lawn mowers, ladders and more – you may think you are being helpful to the tenants, but you are creating major liabilities for yourself and frustrations when you get a bill to remove these items. Personal property is considered “Items of Non-Value” and if they are missing or damaged when you return to your property, you cannot deduct the Tenant’s security deposit! Don’t even leave behind cleaning supplies unless they are specific to the floors, granite, or stainless steel appliances.
- Do not leave your new contact information in the house or anywhere for the tenant, it may seem like a good or friendly idea, but many Landlords have regretted this, and, if you are interested in further discussion on the pitfalls of direct communication with your Tenant(s) – consult your property manager.
We hope that this check-list will make your move a little easier during this very busy and often stressful time. Since 1976, McGrath Real Estate Services has handled many situations just like yours. We will do all we can to make sure that this is a smooth transition. We wish you much success in your endeavors and look forward to working with you and managing your property.
- Management Lifecycle
- McGrath Service Area
- Questions To Ask a Property Manager
- Owner Departure Checklist
- FAQ’s for Landlords
- Preparing To Leave Your Home
- Preparing Your Home for Rent
- Northern Virginia Utility Companies
- Returning to Your Home
- Landlord Insurance Requirements
- McGrath Window & Siding Program
FOREIGN SERVICE RELATIONSHIP
DOCUMENTS & VIDEOS
- Sample Lease
- Educational Videos
- Returning Owner Checklist
- Wear & Tear – Security Deposits
- Landlord Handbook
- Vendor Policy