Access Property Management Group, LLC • Grand Rapids, MI (616) 301-9450

Leasing Rental Property: How Long Does it Take?

Leasing Rental Property: How long does it take before my home is occupied?

This is one of the top questions we get from our clients. In this blog we will discuss leasing rental property, Landlords want to know when the MONEY is going to be coming in! At Access Property Management Group, each one of us are real estate investors. We get it. The shorter vacancy the better. But this questions requires a bit more explanation because the leasing process is vital to the success of your rental property.

The short answer to the question is it can be as short as a week or as long as 30-45 days. So the next obvious question is “why so long?” If you haven’t leased a rental before, you may not understand the different aspects involved during the leasing period.

Marketing a Rental

As we mentioned in the blog last week, you want to make sure the home is in rent-ready condition before marketing it. All repairs complete, paint and flooring done, and a thorough cleaning. If it’s not, your timeline will be longer. In the current West Michigan market, you will receive a lot of inquiries on your rental when it is posted. A large majority of these prospects will not qualify, even less will want a showing, and fewer will want to apply. Think of a funnel. Although it can seem frustrating sorting through the calls and emails and no shows, it is important to find the right tenant for your property.

Leasing Tip: A unit gets more traffic from prospects when it is priced at fair market rent and has great, but accurate pictures!

Approving an Application

You have an applicant! Now you need to do your due diligence to make sure they qualify for your rental. Once again, make sure to follow all fair housing rules when going through the leasing process. This process can take a day or it can take several depending on how motivated the applicant is to rent the unit. You will want to check credit, previous renting history, criminal background and income. Our full screening criteria is listed on our site here.

Leasing Tip: Don’t take your property off the market until you get a deposit. This motivates an applicant to get approved quickly so they don’t lose the unit.

Holding the Unit

Alright! You have an approved applicant and deposit. Now we wait… This is usually the longest part of the leasing process. Some people will be ready to move in immediately, but most will need time to pack and give notice at their current residence. At Access, we will hold a unit for 30 days with a full deposit. After the 30 days is up, the resident needs to start paying rent even if they don’t move in yet. Check out our blog on security deposit tips to learn more about deposits.

Leasing Tip: Make sure to include on your rental application that the applicant will forfeit their deposit if they don’t move in! Speak to your attorney for the correct wording.

So there is your leasing timeline. Each part will have some ebb and flow as you rent and re-rent your rental. One final tip: Start off on the right foot with your new resident. Moving is stressful and expensive! Be flexible and understanding on the items that you can be.

Next week we will give some real life examples of what happens when you DON’T do leasing right.

December Focus: Leasing

The Vital Part of Being an Investor: Leasing

For the month of December we are going to be doing a series of blogs on the part of owning a rental that is time consuming, frustrating, but absolutely necessary for success: LEASING. After meeting with countless owners and being in the property management business for almost 10 years, we get a lot of the same questions about leasing. We will address those questions while also sharing our best leasing practices. We will finish up with a market update.

Here are the topics we will be covering in December:

  • What is so hard about Leasing? and Why isn’t my unit filled yet?
  • How long does it take before my home is occupied?
  • The biggest mistakes we have seen in leasing (& how you can avoid them)
  • Market Update – what are we seeing going on in the West Michigan rental market.

What is so Hard About Leasing? 

You got your unit ready, hired a property manager, and handed over the keys. Now why isn’t it leased already? Slow down there! Leasing is one of the most complicated and detailed parts of owning an investment property. When you hear horror stories about rentals, it always involves the tenant, right? So doesn’t it make sense to lease the properly correctly and make sure the tenant is a good fit?

Unit Preparation BEFORE Listing

We can’t stress this enough. A prospective resident will NOT be able to envision future improvements in a unit. The home needs to be ready BEFORE you start showing.

If you have furnishing in your unit, here is a quick video tip that explains how to lease a unit with furnishings.

This includes all repairs done, lightbulbs replaced, painting and flooring completed, and a final cleaning completed. The unit should look like how it is going to be on move in day. This will allow your unit to rent faster and avoid miscommunications about expectations.

Marketing and Leads

If you list a unit on craigslist at fair market price, odds are, you will immediately get several inquiries about your unit. This is a great sign, but don’t think you are on the easy road yet! These leads need to be responded to, prescreened, showed and then thoroughly screened before acceptance.

Need help with finding the fair market rent price? Check out our video blog here.

Craigslist can be a great lead generator, but we have found that it does not provide the best quality leads. Using rental specific sites and SEO generated from our website allows us to bring in higher quality leads that save time and money.

Prescreening and Final Screening

To save yourself a ton of time and money, you will need to screen your applicants before showing and before accepting an applicant. Prescreening happens prior to a showing and is a shortened version of screening:

  • Start to build a rapport with a prospect.
  • Verify their name, email, number,
  • Verify they can financially afford the unit

Once the prospect is ready, willing and able to apply, we continue with a thorough screening of each applicant over the age of 18. Some parts of this screening can be quick, but some parts, like income verification can take some time to complete.

Fair Housing

We can’t talk about leasing with out mentioning fair housing. Every time you list your unit for rent, you must:

  • Use the same criteria for each prospect
  • Treat all Individuals in the same manner from lead to move in
  • Do not discriminate against race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, disability, marital status, and age, among others protected by local laws.

For more information about Fair Housing laws, visit the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan here.

To sum it up, there are a lot of different processes that need to happen before a prospect is accepted. Skip one of these processes and your risk for a bad tenant increases and you could set yourself up for a fair housing complaint. Take the time to do it right and put a tenant in your home that is going to save you time and make you money.

Stay tuned for next weeks blog on the timeline of leasing.

WINTER IS COMING – Tips to Winterize a Rental

Winterize Rentals in Northern Climates

Hi, this is Jenny with Access Property Management Group, and I’m here today to tell you that…winter is coming! OK, I know it’s a little dramatic, but winter will be here before we know it. I know in some parts of the country people can get away with using freeze sensors and extra insulation but in the northern climates its a must to winterize rentals. I want to give you some tips on how to winterize a rental and get it ready for the freezing months.

Contact Residents

At Access Property Management Group, the first thing that we do to winterize a rental is we send out an email blast to all of our residents and remind them to check their furnaces. This encourages residents to turn them on before it gets really cold. This does two things. One, it makes your resident happy because they don’t have to endure a freezing cold apartment or home. And two, it saves you as investor because you don’t have to send out an HVAC personnel as an after hours emergency call.

Fall Clean Up

The next thing that you want to do to winterize a rental is schedule your fall clean up. Landscape companies are starting to become very busy, so it’s good to do this as soon as possible to get on their schedule. You are going to want to check your gutters and make sure that they are cleaned out. This prevents ice damage and ice buildup from occurring. It can become very dangerous if you have a lot of ice buildup and can cause a lot of damage as well.

Stock up on Salt

Finally, to winterize a rental you will want to stock up on your salt and ice melt. You want to be ready when that first freeze happens because you don’t want anybody slipping on slippery walkways.

Interested in learning more about Maintenance of a rental? Check out our blog on City Inspection Sticker for Furnaces and Water Heaters.

Rental Flooring-Ceramic Tile and Painted Floors – Do’s and Dont’s

Rental Flooring  – Do’s and Dont’s

Today we are doing a short blog on a couple of do’s and don’ts (our opinion) regarding rental flooring, specifially on ceramic tile flooring and painted flooring when turning over a unit or even buying a rental.

Ceramic Tile Rental Flooring- Yes or No?

In Michigan, ceramic tile floors don’t go over really well in every room of the house. We find them great for entry ways or bathrooms but that is about it. In Arizona and Texas they are everywhere throughout the home. Here in West Michigan we just don’t see the same ceramic tiling throughout. This rental we are at today, for instance, was purchased with ceramic tile floors. As you can see in the video, the ceramic tile floors tend to crack and then you end up replacing certain tiles.  The cracking may be due to poor craftsmanship during the install or the fact they were installed in a home built in the early 1900’s and the flooring has shifted.  Trying to find a match over the years just doesn’t go over well either.  We suggest not installing tile floors throughout and evaluating tile flooring before purchasing a rental. Especially in heavy traffic areas or areas as large as family rooms and dining rooms.

Want more tips for improving your rental? Here’s another post about cost effective kitchen improvements.

Painting Floors? Yes!

Painted flooring in a rental is our second topic for today. In this home we have a covered porch floor that was originally painted when it was purchase, but the wear and tear is really showing. Check out the first impression a prospective tenant will receive as they walk in the front door with the newly painted flooring! It shows the home is cared for and updated. Painting flooring is an easy and inexpensive way to quickly add value to a rental. In the video I’ll show you the area we have not painted yet, which is the steps. This gives you a good before and after idea.

These are just a couple of things to keep in mind regarding rental flooring. Remember to look out for these when turning over a unit or purchasing a new rental property. Thank you for reading or watching this blog,

Access Property Management Group.

Check out this blog to read more about property management problems and what to avoid.

Question: What are City Inspection Stickers for Furnaces and Water Heaters?

Question: What are City Inspection Stickers on Furnaces and Water Heaters?

We get this question from many owners who have never been a part of a City Rental inspection. The City wants to see a “sticker” on appliances which is Grand Rapids term for a water heater or furnace. So today I just wanted to show you what those look like or describe them to you, so when you do have a city inspection you understand what to look for and what your HVAC technician is going to do.

Let’s take a look at this furnace here. This furnace is a little bit older, but it does have two stickers on it and that’s why I chose it. The first one is the old style and that would be the red sticker. That’s what they use to put on appliances. Stickers are good for 3 or 4 years. It shows the initials of the HVAC inspector that came and the date the inspection was performed. The updated stickers are these white ones. The city now has a new system in which they can go in and see that the appliance was looked at and meets code by a HVAC professional. They used to keep track by those serial numbers on the red stickers, but now they do it all online based on what the HVAC company reports.

Another good tip is writing down the filter size and the direction of airflow on the furnace, that way tenants know what size air filter to put in if by chance they threw the old one away without looking or there was no filter in it to begin with.

Moving over to the water heater, we see the city sticker on it. A few things they look for on water heaters is to make sure that the drip tube meets proper lengths and make sure the venting is good and has the correct amount of drop and rise so no carbon dioxide fills the basement.

Thank you, and let us know if you have any questions. Access Property Management Group.

Leasing Service Management – Want to do your own maintenance?

Leasing Service Management – Want to do your own maintenance?

Landlords often ask us: “Can I do my own maintenance?”.  Many Landlords do their own property maintenance to directly control the cost and quality of the work done at their properties.  Equally important is the communication and response time to new work orders.  A full-service Property Manager typically will not allow for an owner to perform maintenance under the management agreement due to the protections a Manager is required to have in place as an Agent to the Owner and the responsibilities assigned to the Manager in the Management Agreement.

Rental properties require the most attention during turnover and lease-up.  To address this need, many Property Managers offer a Leasing Service which allows Landlords to continue doing their own maintenance and avoid the heavy administrative burden of finding a tenant.

A Leasing Service plan typically includes the following services:

  • Marketing
  • Showing
  • Tenant Screening
  • Lease Signing
  • Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent Collection
  • Managing phone calls and emails
  • Coordinate Utility Transfers
  • Pictures and Video Tours
  • Tenant Orientation

The Property Manager’s responsibilities are complete once a qualified tenant moves into the property. The is Owner free to handle the maintenance and day-to-day decisions as they please.

A Leasing Service agreement is a good option for a Landlord who has good control over their occupied rental properties but does not have the time or resources to quickly fill a vacant unit with a well-qualified tenant.


Best Property Management Strategy: Manager vs. DIY Self-Manage

Best Property Management Strategy: Manager vs. DIY Self-Manage.

Owning rental properties brings many challenges.  Among the more significant decisions to be made revolve around how to manage the investment – self manage or hire a third-party?

Before reading further, it is important to note that hiring a property manager may not be the best option for you.  There are situations in which self-managing is a better option than hiring a third-party.  Some individuals possess strong skillsets which make them well-suited to self-manage their properties.  This article will look at the benefits on each style so that you can make an informed decision best fit for your circumstances.

In addition to the general day-to-day management of a rental property, you must also consider your need for support in the areas of Marketing, Taxes, Accounting, Maintenance and Legal advice.  Some of these areas can be covered by a property manager and others cannot.

When most people consider hiring a property manager the first and foremost concern is that of cost. However, there are many other important factors to consider.  Owning a rental property is essentially the same as owning a small business and the similarities, responsibilities and duties of each coincide closely.

Top 5 reasons to hire a Property Manager

  • Your Will Have More Free Time – In our experience, the primary reason for hiring a property manager revolves around time management.  Many investors are focused on growth and are too busy to manage their own rental properties.  Other investors place a very high value on their free time and prefer to spend time with their families, travelling or just not worrying about the next call from their tenant.  Peace of mind is powerful and it is difficult to place a value on.
  • Your Rents Will Likely be Higher – Many who self-manage often let their rents fall behind the market.  A property manager can often pay for themselves just by consistently managing a rental at or above market rents.  Property management companies continuously work the market and know how much they can push rents.  As an example, consider a home renting for $1,000/mo: A market rent increase of just 5% translates to an additional $600 of income per year.  This increase could be even more if the home is currently rented for less than $1,000/mo and the rent has not been increased for several years.
  • You Invest Out-of-State – Owning rental properties out-of-state or even in a different city can be a good reason to hire a property manager.  Laws affecting real estate vary from state to state and from city to city and having local knowledge is vital.  You also need “boots on the ground” to ensure that your investment is preserved and cared for.  Hiring a property manager is highly recommended if you do not invest locally.
  • Relationships and the Experience of Professionals – When you hire a property manager you get the instant benefit of proven systems and many years of experience.  There are many situations in real estate where experience can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Hiring with a property manager can also be a great resource for you to learn the business by associating with people who have been active in it for many years.  
  • You Don’t Know Where to Start – Let’s face it, some people just don’t have the time, knowledge or desire to self-manage a rental but they still recognize the powerful wealth building capability of real estate and want to own a rental portfolio.  A property manager can give this wealth-building opportunity to people who otherwise may not be able to take advantage of it.


Top 5 reasons to DIY Self-Manage

  • No Management Fees – The financial benefit of self-managing is usually very clear.  If you self-manage you will save anywhere from 8%-10% of the rent collected each month.  You will also save the cost associated with leasing the property which can range from 50%-100% of a full month’s rent.  Using the example of a home renting for $1,000/mo: Your annual savings in management fees would be between $1,460 – $2,200 depending on your property manager’s fee structure.
  • Ultimate Control for Decision-Making – Being a self-manager means that you are the person making all decisions large and small related to your rental property.  You will always have your own best interest in mind.  Being in control squarely places responsibility on you to delegate tasks or handle them yourself as you see fit.  Having a strong team in place will assist you in delegating.
  • Gain Valuable Experience – There is no doubt that you will learn may valuable lessons and insights by managing your rental properties.  You will learn each step in the process by direct interaction.  Each day carries the potential for something new and unprecedented to be learned and these experiences are invaluable to you as you grow your real estate investing career.  Self-managing is also a great primer for interviewing property managers in the future should you decide later to hire one.
  • You Live Near Your Rentals – While on its own, this may not be reason enough to self-manage, it can make a huge difference when all other factors point to self-managing.  If you live nearby your rentals you will be much better prepared for success as a self-manager.  
  • You Have a Very Unique Home or are House-Hacking – Most property management companies are highly systematized and properties that don’t fit into their systems are often overlooked because they don’t follow the normal flow of business.  Sometimes, the property may not be unique but the circumstances surrounding the property are unique (such as an owner-occupied single-family home with leases on some bedrooms – “house-hacking”).  House-hacking is an ideal self-management situation.


How you ultimately decide to manage your property comes down to 3 primary factors:

  1. Cost OR Opportunity Cost;
  2. Location(s) of your rental properties; and,
  3. Knowledge OR Desire to Learn.

Be honest when you answer these questions for yourself and you will be rewarded with knowing you made the best decision for your specific situation.

What is a Property Management Tenant Guarantee?

What is a Property Management Tenant Guarantee?

One feature of property management contracts we receive a lot of questions about is the Tenant Guarantee.  What exactly is a Tenant Guarantee?  What does it cover?  How does it work?  What is NOT covered?

The best property managers have developed and honed their screening criteria to identify a highly qualified and reliable tenant.  In doing this, professional property managers significantly reduce their client’s exposure to evictions.  By using a highly effective and proven screening process a property manager can offer a guarantee to the owner when placing tenants into a rental property.

What is a Tenant Guarantee? A Tenant Guarantee is a guarantee that the tenant will perform according to the lease.  A tenant who does not perform according to the lease will trigger the Tenant Guarantee.  It is important to understand what kind of situations the management contract consider to be “triggers” of the guarantee.  

How Does it Work?  Tenant Guarantees vary in the length of time in which they are valid.  Most are valid between 30-90 days from the first day of the lease and others may be valid for 6 months or even 1 year.  If a tenant moves out without good cause, owner approval, breaks the lease or gets evicted from the home while the Tenant Guarantee is in effect, the guarantee is triggered.  

What does the Tenant Guarantee Cover?  A Tenant Guarantee covers the cost related to finding and placing a screened and qualified tenant into a rental home – commonly know as a “Leasing Fee” or “Tenant Placement Fee”.  Under most Tenant Guarantees a new tenant will be found without the owner having to pay a second Leasing Fee to the property manager.

What is NOT covered by the Tenant Guarantee?  A Tenant Guarantee does not cover the costs of turnover or repairs, unpaid rent or attorney fees (your manager may offer other plans to cover these costs).  A tenant guarantee is commonly limited to finding a new tenant without the owner incurring an additional Leasing Fee.  A Tenant Guarantee is not a refund of the original fee paid. 

I hope this has given you a better understanding of a Tenant Guarantee but if you still have questions please contact us by phone at 616-301-9450 in Grand Rapids or 269-220-6033 in Kalamazoo!

Property Management Problems and How to Avoid Them

Property Management Problems and How to Avoid Them

Property Management horror stories are easy to find.  If you know a real estate investor, you have likely heard about a problem he/she experienced with a property manager and Google is full of scathing 1-star reviews of property management companies.

Property management is a difficult business. Nonetheless, it is still a service-based industry and your property manager must always have your best interest in mind and maintain or (hopefully) exceed the industry standards.  It is also important to recognize when things go wrong which are outside of a property manager’s control and when they are not.

Here are the most common property management problems and tips which will help you avoid them:

  • Below Market Rents: Rents are the largest income stream for many real estate investors.  Your rents should be on par with current market rates in order to maximize your potential income.  Periodically performing your own rental comps will quickly tell you if your manager is keeping up with the market.  Rental comps are easy to do using any of the popular real estate apps and websites.  You can also call another property managers in the area and ask them their opinion on the home and ask them to provide real life examples supporting their claims.  There are times when slightly below market rents are acceptable, however, this should be discussed with your manager to weigh the pros/cons.
  • Hidden Fees: Hidden fees are a problem in many industries but when your investments are on the line, hidden fees are much harder to absorb.  Before you sign a property management contract make sure you have read it, you understand it and you ask questions to clarify anything you do not understand.  Your prospective manager should be up-front with their pricing and not hesitant to discuss it with you.  
  • Mixed Messages from the Company: Do you talk to a different person every time you call the management office?  Are you getting different answers to the same question? Do you have more questions now than you did when you picked up the phone in the first place?  Staff turnover and over-staffing is a common problem with property management companies.  Ask your salesperson about the staff you will be dealing with once you sign up and the stability of the staff.
  • Poor Reporting/Communication: Timely and smart communication is ideal and non-communication is a deal-breaker.  Your manager should be communicating with you regularly and fully comfortable with all modes of communication.  You don’t want them constantly hiding behind an auto-attendant or administrative assistant.  Their reports should be consistently delivered each month and your questions answered clearly and quickly.  Any deviation in reporting or a failure to deliver reports can be a huge red flag that must not be ignored.
  • Expensive: There are many factors that drive the cost of property management in a given region.  Among these are: the quality of the housing, the location of the home, the current rental and housing market, local manager competition and the anticipated monthly rent of your home.  Understanding your local market and the amount of work your investment properties require will help you negotiate with a property manager.  A “needy” home is more expensive to manage.
  • High Maintenance costs: Maintenance can be handled in two primary ways – In-house staff or trusted vendors.  Each style has its pros and cons.  Ask your property manager to describe their maintenance system and ask what their typical costs are to service the most common problems. You may also ask them what they will do to keep costs down at your rental property.
  • Doesn’t do Inspections:  Inspections are a core task of owning rental properties.  Inspections should be done regularly.  If a manager does not provide routine inspections they may be understaffed and incapable of servicing their clients properly.  The best way to find out how inspections are handled is to find someone who is currently under their care and ask them.
  • Placed a Bad Tenant: Placing a bad tenant is one of the most expensive mistakes a person can make in rental real estate.  Doing the upfront work of an intense background check is paramount.  The vast majority of Landlord Nightmare Stories could be avoided with this one step yet there are many who still don’t do it.  Despite strict screening criteria, some tenants just fall on hard times or bad luck and this situation is not something that can be screened upfront.  If you are experiencing a bad tenant find out what went wrong – is the manager negligent or is something else going on outside of their control?
  • Lack of Owner Mindset: Simply put – your property manager should own rental properties.  It is the only way for them to truly understand the unique stresses and satisfaction that come with operating a successful rental business.  It will make communication between you and them much easier and hopefully result in a stronger relationship.  Without the Owner Mindset, your property manager will be more likely to make decisions that are not in your best interest despite the fact that they may truly think otherwise.

If you have never hired a property manager for fear of having one or more of these problems, use this list as a guide when you interview potential managers – It will give you a strong start in the process and the managers you interview will know you are serious about property management!

When should you hire a Property Manager?

When should you hire a property manager? As with any large decision, there are many factors that you should consider as you decide what is best for your situation.

Here is a list of 6 questions you should ask yourself to help you decide if hiring a property manager is right for you:

1. Do you know the laws related to being a Landlord?
This may seem like a basic consideration, however it is important and often overlooked. The laws involved with being a Landlord or property owner are many and diverse and the consequences for violating them – intentional or not – can be severe. These laws also vary from City to City and State to State. Even if you do not hire a property manager you should – at the very least – have a real estate-minded attorney with whom you consult regularly. The MSU College of Law publishes an online guide titled “Tenants and Landlords – A Practical Guide” which can be found with a quick Google search. This is required reading for any Michigan Landlord!

2. Do you have a system in place for handling maintenance and after-hours calls from your tenants? Routine maintenance and after-hours calls are inevitable when you are a Landlord. If you are a handy person, routine maintenance may be easy and enjoyable for you. On the other hand, if you have not done any basic building maintenance, these tasks will be difficult for you and probably cost you a lot more to complete on your own than if you were to hire them out. If you plan to manage your own rental property, contact several local vendors including plumbing, HVAC and general maintenance and have them ready to go when you need them. Having backup vendors is equally important!

3. Do you live nearby your rental properties? You want to be able to check on your properties at regular intervals to make sure that the home is being properly cared for. Drive-by and interior inspections should be a part of your management routine. If you live very far from your properties, chances are you won’t be thrilled to drive by them on your day off. A local manager or agent can take on the responsibility of routine inspections and deliver a report to you.

4. Are you putting off responsibilities related to your rental portfolio? You need to honestly ask yourself if you can make the time sacrifices and tough decisions required to be a successful Landlord. Rent Collection, Late Payments, Regular Maintenance, Application Screening, Showing vacant units, and the list goes on. A high degree of consistency, diplomacy, organization and a strong team is required to be a successful Landlord. If you find yourself procrastinating any or all of these duties as a Landlord, it may be time to add a property manager to your real-estate team.

5. Are you capable of handling the financial reporting for your portfolio? Basic accounting knowledge is vital if you want to be able to understand how your rental business is performing. This is probably THE MOST OVERLOOKED ASPECT of do-it-yourself Landlords. Having accurate financial records throughout the year will save you money throughout the year and on your taxes – your tax preparer will spend less time wading through receipts and they will be able to spend more time focusing on the tax advantages specific to your situation. In addition, you will quickly be able to understand the financial health of your portfolio at a glance and know if you have a problem siphoning profits from your bottom line.

6. Do you have the time to make the most of your real estate investment? The difference between a ho-hum real estate experience and a great experience comes down to the time and experience of those who are performing the work. Leveraging the time of others with more experience will greatly increase your chances of achieving a highly successful rental real estate business. Make sure you do not burn yourself out!

When investing in real-estate, it is important to focus your time and energy on the tasks that bring you the best return and enjoyment. If these 6 questions make you shudder with anxiety then hiring a property manager is probably going to be a good thing for you. If you feel that you have a solid grasp on these topics and enough time to attend to them then you can probably self-manage without too much assistance.

Resident Education Video – How to Submit an Online Work Order Access Property Management

Access Property Management Group:
Resident Education Video – How to Submit an Online Work Order.

Today we are going to teach you how to submit a work order online through your Resident Portal.

First thing you want to do is go to and click on the Resident’s Login tab and then click the Login Now button. From there it will take you to a login page, where you will need to enter your email address and your password.

Now we are logged into the Resident Portal.

Scroll across the top here and hit the maintenance tab. We already have a couple of work orders in the system. One was already done and closed out and the other one I put in and was canceled – these are all options that you have as a tenant. So now we have something else that’s wrong / broken in your unit so we will put in a new service request. Starting from the top of the entry form, first you’ll have our address here and the specific location of the work is going to be the basement.

We have a smoke detector issue. A smoke detector is beeping. So once we put that in we can click here to determine what our best contact phone number is. It will autofill to your mobile phone and will also have your email address. If you want to upload a picture you can do that by choosing a file and then click the Save button. Once you click save, that work order will then be submitted to the office and we will send a vendor out. That vendor will call you or email you and schedule a time. If the smoke detector stops beeping and you want to cancel, you can come up here to click the “Cancel Service Request” button, or if you entered the wrong information you can click “Edit.” That is how you submit a work order online. If you have any questions please email or call us at 616-301-9450 or in Kzoo at 269-220-6033. Grand Rapids Property Management, Access Property Management Group.

Property Management Prices and Cost in West Michigan

Today we are talking about property management pricing and costs in West Michigan. At Access Property Management Group we have three pricing options for our owners.

The first is our Premier Plan. This plan is 18% of rents collected each month and it includes all of the tenant placement or leasing fees, includes all the lease renewal fees, includes our tenant guarantee, as well as our Eviction Protection Plan. This plan was designed to keep property management costs stable and predictable from month-to-month and year-to-year. You won’t see spikes in the property management costs when a tenant moves in or when a lease renewal occurs.

Our next plan is our standard pricing. This is more in line with the traditional pricing structure that you are probably used to. This plan is 9% of rents collected each month. The tenant leasing or placement fee is 65% of one month’s rent and lease renewals are completed at a fee of $200 each.

With all our plans you get access to your property manager’s personal cell phone numbers. You can call, text or email anytime.

Our last plan is our flat rate plan. This is $99 per month, per unit. It is structured with all of the same services that you would receive under the standard traditional pricing. We designed this plan for property owners who have rentals that rent above the market average, to keep property management costs in check each month.

If you are interested in more information on any of these plans you can click the Sign-Up button under each plan and that will take you to our contact page which you can fill out and we will be in touch with you quickly after we receive your inquiry!

You can also call our office in Grand Rapids at 616-301-9450, or if you are in Kalamazoo you can call 269-220-6033.

Resident Education: Adding payment accounts and Online Payments

Resident Education Video: How to add a payment account

Hi everyone, today I’m going to show you how to add a payment account in your tenant portal.

Go to and click on “Tenant Login” on the upper right hand side, and click “Login Now.” You will be taken to the login screen of your portal. Once you’ve logged in you will come to the home screen inside the tenant portal. What you want to do is click on the “Add Payment Account,” which is the orange button near the center of the screen.

Once you’ve done that you will have an option to use either the eCheck, which is ACH direct debit from your checking or savings account, or a credit card. The ACH option is free. You can also use a Visa, Mastercard or Discover credit or debit card; there is a fee to use this option but it is there for you if you want to do it.

Once you have selected your preferred payment method the next step is to complete the required fields. You want to enter your bank name, click checking or savings, enter your bank routing number which is always going to be a 9-digit number, and your account number. Give the account a nickname so that you can easily identify it when you are in your portal making payments. Fill all your personal information including name, billing address, birthday and your email address. Click “Save.”

Once you’ve done that you have successfully added your payment account. Now you can make a one-time payment or you can schedule recurring payments. If you want to schedule your rent to be paid automatically on the same day each month for the same amount, you can schedule a recurring payment and that will happen. Otherwise you can login to your portal each month and make a payment for that amount manually.

Access Property Management Group. Many Owners ask us “Where is your office located?”

Access Property Management Group.

Many Owners ask us “Where is your office located?”

Hi this is Eddie with Access Property Management. Today we are just doing a quick video on where our office is actually located. We rarely get anybody to stop by but we wanted to show you in case you want to head out this way.

The sign in the back right about there (see location on video) is for Boltwood Apartments. We manage 48 units here in Allendale so our office is inside one of the old units.

Learn what makes us different from other property managers HERE.

Welcome to Access Property Management Group’s Office. Right outside our door is our secure 24-hour drop box for rent payments, we do provide envelopes and a pen for your address. Our office is not that big but it’s just the right size for us. We have my desk here, Aaron’s desk and our Mac computers which we love. Also the whiteboard over here is for our Move-ins and Move-outs for the current month. We also have this big whiteboard. This is for our properties that are going to be for lease or are currently on the market, along with our monthly turnovers.

We have our model unit for the apartment complex that we manage down here. Bathrooms and more offices down the hall and that’s about it. Just wanted to show you around in case you are ever out this way.

Please give us a call at 616-301-9450 or

Owner statement overview

Owner Statement

Hi! This is Aaron with Access Property Management Group. Today I’m going to be going over the owner statement.

Summary (page 1)
The first page of our owner statement is always a summary of all your activities. It’s going to have one line for all your rental income, one line for all your expenses and one line for your management fees. It’s a real quick overview to get a glimpse of how your portfolio is doing.

The body is where you are going to find all the details of all those transactions. It will show all of your rent received and it will be broken down by each payment. We are going to show all the bills that were paid, again those will be broken down into vendor information. It’s going to have all the maintenance notes related to each bill and it will also show the amount of those bills.

Lease Summaries (last page)
The last page will have your lease summaries. It will have the names, total security deposit, total monthly rent and then the location where that lease is held, and also any unpaid bills that we have are shown at the bottom of your report.

If you like to see a sample of our owner statement feel free to fill out our contact form and we will be happy to send you our owner handbook. We’ve got a sample owner statement in there that you can review.

You can always contact us with any questions at 616-301-9450 in Grand Rapids or 269-220-6033 in Kalamazoo.

“How much will my home rent for?”

“How much will my home rent for in Grand Rapids?”

Hey everybody, this is Aaron with Access Property Management.

As property managers, one of the biggest questions we get asked is “How much money will my home rent for?” Here’s how we do it:

1. Comparables
First thing we look at is comparables. We pull properties from our current management portfolio that are in your neighborhood and we look at them and compare them to your property and find out where your property falls in the mix.

We also look at properties that are currently listed because these are going to be your active competition. We want to make sure you are priced fair.

2. Amenities
We look at your property and see what it offers that other properties don’t. We also look at what your property does not offer that other properties do offer, because this all has an impact on the final rent price.

3. Season
The final thing we think about is season. In Michigan in particular, the prime leasing season falls approximately between April and early September. Outside of that time you may experience longer vacancy and possibly less rent, just due to the fact that not very many people like to move in the middle of winter.


We do offer a free market rental analysis of your home. If you are interested in taking advantage of this please fill out the contact form and we will be happy to meet you at your property and tell you what we think.

You can contact our office by phone at 616-301-9450 in Grand Rapids or in Kalamazoo at 269-220-6033.

Work Order Life Cycle- Access Property Management Group

Hi this is Eddie with Access Property Management. Today we are talking about maintenance, from start to finish or The Work Order Life Cycle.

When I meet a new owner for the first time they have lots of questions, one of the most important is what happens when a work order is put in or a maintenance request is submitted by the tenant?

Step One: Tenant submits a Work Order Online

First off all work orders must be submitted in writing and preferably online. From there they have to fill out the work order form, they then press submit and it goes to us as your property manager and also to you as the owner in real time, so you are always in the loop and always notified about what is going on at your rental.

Step Two: A licensed and insured vendor is dispatched

We then send out a licensed and insured vendor to the work site.  Vendors are chosen based on scope of work, availability and distance to the job.  At this time the vendor will complete the requested work.  If the work is going to cost over $300 then we will notify you and verify that we can move forward with the work.

Step Three: We receive an invoice and add the repair remarks to your Owner Statement

The repair has now been completed. The vendor then emails us an invoice along with all the notes on what they did at the job site. We upload the remarks to your owner statement. When you receive your Owner’s Statement on the tenth of every month, it will note exactly what happened, what the cost was and when the maintenance job was closed out.

Maintenance can be a real headache or it can go very smoothly. We use only licensed, insured and competent vendors to get the job done right the first time. If you have any questions give us a call at 616-301-9450 or

What Makes Us Different? Access Property Management Group | 616-301-9450

Access Property Management Group, What Makes Us Different?

Hi this is Eddie with Access Property Management. Today we are talking about two things that make Access Property Management different from the other Property Management companies.

First thing is Communication. Yes everybody communicates. Does everybody give out their cell phone numbers? NO. All our owners have our cell phone numbers. They call us, they text us, and they email all the time and anytime. That’s what we love. They are always communicating with us and we communicate with them. No one’s left in the dark, no surprises!

The second thing is our Hands-on Property Management style. Our office, which you can view here, has walk-in hours three days a week. The other four days, yes I said four days, we are out driving by properties, taking pictures for owners, and checking on maintenance work. We are checking up on all the things that we have promised you and making sure they are done.

So would you rather your property manager be sitting in front of a computer five days a week or out there looking at your investment?

Please give us a call at 616-301-9450 or

Cost Effective Retro Kitchen Remodel Blog

Cost Effective Retro Kitchen Remodel Blog

Hi this is Eddie with Access Property Management Group. We are going to do a quick two part blog on how to add some value to a kitchen without fully remodeling it and saving some valuable dollars in the meantime.

In our first walk through we have a kitchen that’s still lost in the 50’s and 60’s. You can see by the pink counters and small 4×4 pink plastic tiles that nothing has been done to this kitchen in years.  The room does have lots of nice arches and plenty of cabinet space but it still needs some work to bring it to life.

We will be back in a week to finish this blog and by just adding a couple of dollars without a full remodel we will hopefully make this space look a lot better and it will add some value to this old kitchen.

We are back and done with our retro kitchen remodel. It’s done, it’s been cleaned and we did all the light maintenance items that we wanted to. We have some dark gray paint accents on the walls, new black and grey vinyl checkered floors. We left all the pink counter tops as they cleaned up really well and the original cupboards are looking great.  It gives us that retro look that we wanted without having to rip out the entire kitchen. It’s now a great looking kitchen for minimum dollars.

Call or email us today at 616-301-9450 or or

Michigan Property Taxes Homestead or Principal Residence Exemption (PRE)

Hey everybody, this is Aaron with Access Property Management!

I wanted to talk today about the homestead property tax exemption, formally known as the “principal residence exemption” or PRE. In Michigan, this is a reduction of 18 mills each year on your property taxes for the home that you live in as your principal residence.

Many times when a first time landlord moves out of the home they were living in and decide to lease it they don’t realize that their property taxes are going up by those 18 mills and it’s often missed when they are considering the cost-benefit of doing the rental.

So if you are going to be doing a rental on a property that you’ve been living in make sure you get on the county or city website and get that millage data. When this homestead exemption expires it can increase your annual property taxes anywhere from 30%-50% depending on the municipality and your current millage rates.

If you have any other questions about this please contact us at 616-301-9450 in Grand Rapids or 269-220-6033 in Kalamazoo. You can always reach us on our website at