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Placester, a real estate tech provider, raises another $50 million

Inmannews - 57 min 11 sec ago
Marking venture capital's latest splurge on real estate tech, software provider Placester has clinched another $50 million in a Series D funding round, bringing the company's total funding to $100 million ...
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How Dan the estate agent (and his client’s kids) became an Instalegend

Inmannews - 2 hours 14 min ago
"This is Dan. He just valued our flat," began the Instagram caption that blogger Lorna Hayward posted last week alongside this photo. "Poor Dan. Poor poor Dan. Gonna just pour meself a pint of wine," she concluded. What on earth happened ...
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Are You Ready to Rent to Millennials?

Property Manager - 2 hours 18 min ago

There are 75 million of them; people born between 1980 and 2000. That’s roughly 25% of the U.S. population. Millennials, like all of us are looking for a great place that is safe, convenient, and affordable.

But millennials have their own set of desires, and even requirements when looking for a new apartment home. And they have their own way of locating those apartments.

The question is: are you ready to market and lease to this largest segment of the population? Here are a few tips for reaching and renting to millennials:

· Make sure your rental ads are where millennials can find them. This includes the ability to access ads, including photos and floor plans from the Internet or on a mobile phone.
· Make sure you’re proactive on any public ratings issues that may appear. Millennials, more than any other group rely on the opinion of others. If there are issues, make sure you respond to them promptly, and note that response where it can be viewed by potential renters.
· Ramp up your social media presence. Don’t underestimate the value that millennials place on a solid social media presence, such as an active Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram account.
· Speaking of Facebook, be sure to create a Facebook page for your properties if you don’t already have one; and more importantly, keep posts fresh and timely. Facebook remains a popular forum for millennials, where they can easily access additional information and even download an application.
· Make sure you list amenities such as free Wi-Fi, Leed-certified appliances, in-unit washers and dryers, electric car charging stations, bike racks and bike storage. Being pet-friendly doesn’t hurt either.
· If your properties are convenient to public transportation, be sure to mention that in your ads. Millennials are much more likely to use public transportation than their older counterpart and will see this as a definite plus.
· Fitness centers and coffee shops also top the list of amenities that millennials want. While space can be an issue for fitness centers, as an option, you can offer a discount to area gyms if desired. And millennials aren’t the only ones that would like an onsite coffee shop. Offering coffee and quick snacks would appeal to just about any demographic.

While marketing to millennials can seem tricky, in the end, millennials, like generations before them, simply want a place that they can call their own.

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RealtyBackOffice ensures no dollar, date or deal slips in a brokerage

Inmannews - 9 hours 16 min ago
RealtyBackOffice is an enterprise solution for managing every aspect of a real estate deal. ...
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Will trended credit data result in more mortgage approvals?

Inmannews - 9 hours 26 min ago
With foreclosures at a 10-year low, a good case can be made to take a look at strict lending standards that may be doing more harm than good ...
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What kind of financing is available for flippers?

Inmannews - 9 hours 27 min ago
In this video, Peter Lorimer of PLG Estates discusses the various options of real estate financing for flippers and how they work. ...
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Daily market update: March 24, 2017

Inmannews - 9 hours 56 min ago
Mortgage rates plus all the latest real estate market news ...
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Relationships and tech: Why you can’t do business without both

Inmannews - 9 hours 57 min ago
If you are like me, you wake up each morning, open up your laptop, check social media and scour the internet for the latest trends in digital marketing ...
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Why your flipped house might actually be a flop house

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:54pm

House flipping is hot again, with investors flipping property at the fastest pace in a decade. Yet behind their walls, that picture-perfect dream home could conceal a nightmare.

A flipped house is one that has been sold at least twice within one year. Real estate site Trulia said more than six percent of last year’s home sales were flips—the most since before the financial crisis.

With flipped property soaring in popularity again, so are the risks associated with buying a lemon, experts say.

“What you have to watch out for is if a house has been totally renovated, everything , not just the kitchen or a bathroom, but the whole house, “Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.

“That’s a good sign that it was probably flipped fairly quickly,” he warned.

In the speed to fix-up a house and re-sell it at a profit, corners could be cut. Work could be completed without required permits, or Lesh said, appliances or lighting could be installed without “proper connections in the electrical panel.”

In especially hot property markets, fixer-uppers that mask flaws are more prevalent, he said. “Because people are trying to turn around houses very quickly and if a market is hot, sometimes people forego the home inspection and that is never a good idea,” Lesh added.

Some quick turnover homes have only had cosmetic fixes that mask mechanical or structural issues that even trained eyes may not be able to catch.

“There are a lot of things that a home inspector can do but there’s just some that we can’t,” Lesh acknowledged.

“A home inspection is done over a few hours’ time period. So that’s sort of like taking a photograph of a moving train. We see it today, right now. So we can’t predict what’s going to happen.”-Frank Lesh, executive director, ASHI

According to ASHI—which since 1976 has represented 8000 certified and vetted inspectors— a home Inspection is a professional, written opinion of a home. It is based on a visual evaluation and operational testing of the systems and components to determine current condition.

Still, even some details can get past an expert.

“Keep in mind that a home inspection is done over a few hours’ time period. So that’s sort of like taking a photograph of a moving train,” Lesh said. “We see it today, right now. So we can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

Lesh said a home inspector could very easily “tell if an electrical outlet wasn’t installed properly,” but wiring can be trickier. “We can’t see behind walls,” he added.

Meanwhile, plumbing can be an even bigger problem for homeowners. Lesh told CNBC that sometimes, “slow problems that you may not see, like a small leak behind a wall because it wasn’t taped properly, could become a problem that an inspector just wouldn’t be able to see.”

During an inspection, there’s a limit to what an inspector can do, he explained.

“Although we run the water in the bathtub and the shower, we don’t get in the shower or in the tub and actually sit in there or stand in there. So it’s hard for us to actually live in the house, but we’re there for a few hours so we try to check it out as thoroughly as we can,” Lesh said.

In stressing the importance of a home inspection, Lesh added that “everybody should know that your house does not have a ‘check engine’ light. It’s not a car.”

Unless an expert can really dig into the home’s nooks and crannies, ” You’re just not going to know what you’re getting.”

Source: cnbc.com

The post Why your flipped house might actually be a flop house appeared first on AAOA.

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Do you really want to own a second home?

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:52pm

The real estate market is heating up again after the devastation of the great recession, particularly in retirement meccas like the Carolinas, Florida, Texas and Arizona. Much of the activity comes from retirees selling their family homes in the north and moving to the sunbelt. But a significant portion is also due to retirees and pre-retirees buying a second home at the beach or somewhere else in the sun. They might be anticipating the place where they will eventually move full time. If they can afford it, some people keep their main residence, but also want a retreat where they can get away from the world.

For some people, having a second home is part of the retirement dream. You stay in your hometown with friends and family, but also have a small bungalow at the beach or a condo in the sunshine. If you’re going to vacation in the same spot every year, it could be cheaper to own than to rent, but this isn’t always the case. And money is not the only issue. Here are some pros and cons to consider beforeyou purchase a second home:

Pro: You can use the property whenever you want. If you own the property, you can enjoy it at your leisure. You no longer have to spend countless hours rooting through hotel sites or home-share sites searching for something you can afford at the time you want to go.

Con: You’re tied down to one place. If you own a condo in Florida, then you’re probably going to Florida for vacations, whether you want to or not. Unless you have very deep pockets, it’s hard to justify – much less afford– an alternate vacation to Europe, Mexico or anywhere else.

Pro: There’s pride of ownership. Many people enjoy the feeling of owning their vacation spot, rather than renting, just like it feels good to own your own home instead of living in an apartment. In addition, as owner, you can invite your friends and family to join you on vacation, or let them use it by themselves when you’re not there.

Con: As the owner, you’re responsible when something goes wrong. Again, just like owning your own home, you are the one who has to step up when a window gets broken, the roof springs a leak or the refrigerator gives up. Also, you may be held liable if someone gets hurt falling down stairs or slipping in the shower.


Pro: You might make money renting out your second home. In many retirement meccas there is an active rental market, usually bringing in premium rents during the high season. The internet provides accessible opportunities to rent your place at your own discretion. And some vacation developments offer rental and management programs for the benefit of the owners, relieving you of that responsibility.

Con: Renting out your second home is a lot of work. If you use a management company to rent your unit, it will take a substantial cut of your revenue, depending on the services offered. If you do it yourself, then you’ve just bought yourself a second job.

Pro: You can make the property your own. You can decorate your vacation home the way you want and keep it nice. Plus, you can leave your stuff there, including beach chairs, sports equipment, extra clothes and other paraphernalia. You don’t have to jam your car full of stuff or pay fees for extra baggage on the airline each time you visit.

Buying a second home is a complex decision that requires careful thought. So keep in mind these three tips from second home owners:

Factor in how often you will visit. It might pay off to own if you spend at least three months each year in your second home. For example, a retiree from New York might spend every winter in Florida. However, if you will only have a week or two each year to vacation there, you will probably be better off renting.

Pick a retreat that is close to home. If you want your property to be a rental, select a place near your home, or no more than an hour’s drive away. That way you can stay on top of repairs and keep an eye on the local real estate market.

Consider who will maintain the property. It’s not easy to maintain two properties that are in different states. However, you could buy your second home in a resort community with a management company that will take care of rentals and repairs. You may not make a profit renting out your second home after the management company takes a substantial cut, but you might break even, which helps to defray the costs of owning a second home. You just might end up with a free vacation.


Source: aol.com

The post Do you really want to own a second home? appeared first on AAOA.

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Penn Study: Arts Improve Well-Being in Poorer Neighborhoods

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:49pm

A new study from Penn’s Social Impact of the Arts project found that cultural resources in lower-income neighborhoods are “significantly” linked to better schooling, health, and security.

“Going to a museum won’t cause you to lose weight or reduce your chances of being mugged, but communities with cultural resources do better,” Mark Stern, lead researcher of the project and professor of social welfare and history, said in a statement. “Our research clearly demonstrated that sections of the City are doing well on a number of dimensions of well-being, in spite of significant economic challenges.”

The study, which was funded by the New York Community Trust and the Surdna Foundation, looked at how New York’s “neighborhood cultural ecosystem” improved the lives of the city’s residents. The research controlled for economic well-being, race, and ethnicity, and found that creative nonprofits and for-profits, news outlets, bookstores, artists and other cultural centers led to:

  • 14% decrease in cases of child abuse and neglect
  • 5% decrease in obesity
  • 18% increase in kids scoring in the top stratum on English and math exams
  • 18% decrease in the serious crime rate

“This research confirms and builds on what we’ve seen about the power of art to shape communities and improve lives,” Kerry McCarthy, director of thriving communities at The New York Community Trust, said in a statement. “Our grant-making boosts the arts in neighborhoods that need it most, so we are thrilled to use the findings to hone this strategy.”

The trust plans to use the study in its grant-making, while NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs will use it to help design a cultural plan for the city. The research was conducted from 2014 to 2016. You can read the study here.
Source: phillymag.com

The post Penn Study: Arts Improve Well-Being in Poorer Neighborhoods appeared first on AAOA.

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Renters Now Rule Half of U.S. Cities

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 3:01pm

Detroit was once known as a city where a working-class family could afford to own a home. Now it’s a city of renters.

Just 49 percent of Motor City households were homeowners in 2015, down from 55 percent in 2009 and the lowest percentage in more than 50 years. Detroit isn’t alone, of course: The rate of U.S. home ownership fell steadily for a decade as the foreclosure crisis turned millions of owners into renters and tight housing markets made it hard for renters to buy homes. Demographic shifts—millennials (finally) moving out of their parents basements, for instance, or a rising Hispanic population—further fed the renter pool.

Fifty-two of the 100 largest U.S. cities were majority-renter in 2015, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled for Bloomberg by real estate brokerage Redfin. Twenty-one of those cities have shifted to renter-domination since 2009. These include such hot housing markets as Denver and San Diego and lukewarm locales, such as Detroit and Baltimore, better known for vacant homes than residential development.

While U.S. home ownership ticked up in the second half of 2016, there are reasons to think the trend toward renting will continue. A 2015 report from the Urban Institute predicted that rentership would keep rising through 2030, thanks to demographic trends that include aging baby boomers who downsize into rentals.

In the shorter term, housing market dynamics will also play a role. Fewer than 1 million homes were on the market in the first quarter of 2017, the lowest number since Trulia began recording inventory data in 2012. The shortage makes it harder for renters to buy. Meanwhile, rental landlords, including large Wall Street players and mom-and-pop investors, continue to plow cash into single-family homes.

Those shifts are likely to present new challenges for cities unequipped to handle high rental populations. Detroit Future City, a nonprofit that highlighted Detroit’s shift in a report earlier this month, argues that the city needs an intentional strategy for dealing with the rising population of such households.

That could include providing new protections for renters or creating resources to help landlords keep properties in good repair. On a grander scale, the Center for Budget Policy & Priorities, a Washington-based research institute, published a proposal this month calling for a new tax credit for low-wage workers, seniors, and people for disabilities.

Most low-income families don’t rent by choice, said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin. And plenty of higher-income households rent because they can’t afford to buy. “We don’t have enough affordable supply in either rental or for-sale markets,” said Richardson, adding that cities interested in promoting renter-friendly policies can rethink their zoning policies to encourage more construction.

At an even more basic level, city leaders should check old assumptions about the role renter households play in their communities, said Andrew Jakabovics, vice president for policy development at Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing nonprofit.

Homeowners have traditionally been regarded as more engaged, with more at stake in the long-term prospects of their neighborhood, Jakabovics said. That view can unfairly shortchange renters.

“It goes a long way just to make sure you’re valuing renters and making sure voices are heard when it’s time to allocate resources to schools or parks or transit lines,” he said.


Source: bloomberg.com

The post Renters Now Rule Half of U.S. Cities appeared first on AAOA.

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Using a VA home loan to buy rental properties

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 2:59pm

Members of the armed forces don’t shrink from a challenge. Which may explain why more of them own rental properties.

Nine percent of U.S. homeowners have investment homes, according to a National Association of Realtors study. But that jumps to 16 percent among owners on active duty in the military.

A lower-cost VA home loan — backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — might help a service member or veteran who’s considering joining the ranks of rental property owners. Here are nine things to know about VA mortgages and investment homes.

The ability to use a VA loan to purchase rental properties is not unlimited.

In fact, a would-be borrower needs to understand that it can be done only in these situations:

  • If the home is a duplex, triplex or fourplex, and the service member plans to live onsite.
  • If it’s a single-family home with an apartment that can be rented.
  • If it’s a home that the enlisted person lives in for a time, then elects to rent out after a move or (more likely) a transfer.

As with any mortgage, VA loan rates, fees and terms can vary widely from one lender to another.

That’s something Grant Moon, a veteran and reservist, wishes someone had told him when he used VA mortgages to acquire his two rental homes.

A vet or service member who doesn’t shop around “could end up paying tens of thousands more over the life of the loan,” says Moon, the founder and CEO of VA Loan Captain.

His advice is to get loan estimates from at least three to five lenders. And, shop around for an agent who understands the program, is a good communicator and can strongly advocate on your behalf.

As with any mortgage, VA loan rates, fees and terms can vary widely from one lender to another.

That’s something Grant Moon, a veteran and reservist, wishes someone had told him when he used VA mortgages to acquire his two rental homes.

A vet or service member who doesn’t shop around “could end up paying tens of thousands more over the life of the loan,” says Moon, the founder and CEO of VA Loan Captain.

His advice is to get loan estimates from at least three to five lenders. And, shop around for an agent who understands the program, is a good communicator and can strongly advocate on your behalf.

Buying rental property with a VA loan often means you’ll be an onsite landlord. Can you handle that?

“If you have your tenants living right next door to you,” says Danis, “they have nonstop access to you every time they have a complaint.”

But the closeness also can be a good thing. “If you’re onsite every day, you’re not going to have any surprises,” he says.

If you’re in the military or are a veteran and aren’t necessarily in the market for rental property, maybe you should be. A VA mortgage loan offers the possibility of renting out your home when you move or are transferred, so you may want to think of the rental potential of any home you buy.

Scout out smaller, single-family homes in neighborhoods with desirable school districts, says Elizabeth Colegrove, a military spouse who runs the website The Reluctant Landlord. She says those houses are easier to rent.

“If you’re in the right neighborhood, people will take a 1980s bathroom,” Colegrove says.

Research the local rental market, too. Are rents going up or down? Are people eagerly moving into or fleeing the area?

To get a VA loan for a multi-family building or a home with an apartment attached, the numbers have to work without factoring in tenant rent.

Applicants “have to qualify on standing income alone,” says Kevin Parker, assistant vice president of field mortgage operations for Navy Federal Credit Union.

The lender wants to be sure that you’ll be able to make those payments every month with or without renters.

With rental properties, things can go wrong. Sometimes in clusters.

“My horror stories came within the first year,” recalls Moon, of VA Loan Captain. One tenant moved in, paid rent for a couple of months, then just stopped. That same year, roofing repairs cost Moon $10,000.

“If you’ve never been a landlord, it will be quite the experience,” he says.

Prepare for problems by banking money — as much as you can. If a tenant moves out, the home needs repairs, or you get transferred and want to hire a management company, you’re covered.

One of the attractive features of a VA loan is that you’re not required to make a down payment. So, if you’re planning on being a landlord, “keep that money in your reserves,” Moon advises.

For any active-duty service member, the question isn’t so much if a transfer will come as when. You need to have a plan in place for your rental property.

“If you’re active duty and you get transferred out of state, you’ll need a rental company to manage it for you.” says Danis, of Residential Mortgage. From a distance, “it’s almost impossible to manage it yourself.”

Moon recommends vetting at least three different management companies – preferably long before you ever need them.

“The standard [fee] is 7-10 percent of the monthly rent roll,” he says. “Yes, you’re giving up a chunk. (But) it’s the difference between eating well and sleeping well.”

When using a VA loan for investment property, you need to ask yourself: Is it worth giving up part of your mortgage entitlement?

How it works: If you’re eligible for a VA mortgage, you’re assigned a set amount — called an “entitlement” — which can be as high as $106,025 in most parts of the country. Each time you buy a home, the VA insures 25 percent of the purchase, and that amount is subtracted from your entitlement.

Once the entitlement is used up — on one property or over several — you’ll have to rely on non-VA financing for any subsequent mortgage or refinancing.

Or, you can regain a portion of your entitlement by selling a property and repaying its VA loan.

Want to learn more about how to qualify for a VA mortgage? Here are five things you should know.
Source: bankrate.com

The post Using a VA home loan to buy rental properties appeared first on AAOA.

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Voodoo Agent: How to avoid being a secret agent in your business

Inmannews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 2:27pm
If the idea of promoting yourself doesn't sit well with you, and you're a real estate agent, you've made a huge vocational error. You simply can't be a successful agent without letting people know what you do ...
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Listing Bits: The MLS then, now and in the future

Inmannews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 1:36pm
Rebecca Jensen is busy. She is the President and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data LLC (MRED), the real estate data distributor for the greater Chicago area. ...
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A tale of two housing markets

Inmannews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 1:33pm
This week the National Association of Realtors announced February sales of existing homes had fallen 3.7 percent from January, based on an estimated, seasonally adjusted and annualized 5.48 million homes, the decline attributed to a shortage of homes for sale ...
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Agent fined $5K by Minnesota Department of Commerce for alleged title company ties

Inmannews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 12:29pm
Have you ever crashed on the hotel-room couch of a title agent or lender friend -- and did you know that it could potentially get you into trouble? Minnesota real estate agent Brandon Doyle was recently fined $5,000 by the Department of Commerce (DOC) for allegedly receiving "things of value" in exchange for referrals to a title company. Liberty Title, the title company in question, will pay a $45,000 fine, according to a consent order. ...
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Would-be borrowers could be another $150B in business

Inmannews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 12:29pm
With the big drop off in refinancing, lenders are beginning to realize there is a whole world of would-be borrowers who have been unable to find financing for their deals -- business they can address to offset lost production ...
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How to rethink the lead lifecycle

Inmannews - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 11:45am
Learn to value your clients not just as leads but as people, and discover how this could lead to a tenfold increase in the value of each one ...
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Top 5 Water Conservation Tips for Property Managers

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 11:07am

Reducing water consumption has become more important than ever. This is especially true in areas that experience frequent or long term drought conditions. Many property managers find themselves under water use restrictions or increased prices on water overages. The good news is that there are many ways to reduce water bills that are not occupant dependent.

Optimize Flow: One of the major unseen water wastes in a home occurs due to old, water dependent equipment and pipes. While updating your property’s plumbing and water dependent appliances can be a major investment, it also can create big savings in the long run when factoring in water bills and added value to your property.

Rain Man: Collecting rain can seem like a complicated and seemingly unnecessary thing to do. However, rain collection is gaining traction with increases in drought spells and duration. Collected rainwater can serve as a vital supply for your landscaping. This can be especially useful if you fall under water restrictions by your water company during a drought. Check out this useful page on Wikihow detailing how to set up a rainwater harvesting system. It’s relatively simple and can provide for years to come.

The Great Outdoors: A beautiful, lush green lawn throughout the year is appealing but it also serves as one of the single biggest sources of water waste and expense. Check to see if your county offers rebate programs for switching to drought resistant landscaping. If so, that can be an added incentive. You can also update sprinkler heads and adjust watering schedules as a quick and easy way to optimize how much water goes to the lawn. For other landscaping

options, focusing on native plants can help reel in water use. Research which plants are naturally found in your area and plant them in place of non-native species. Plants that grow wild in your region will be less watering dependent as they are more apt to thrive off of the natural rainfall. Another attractive option is to explore the world of succulents. These are drought resistance plants that come in a variety of colors, sizes and textures and can really add panache to any landscape.

Skip the Drip: Even with newer plumbing, leaks crop up from time to time. Even more challenging than a leak itself is knowing if you have one. First, check fittings under sinks, behind toilets and your outside taps. Some fixes are as simple as a few turns of a wrench, while others may require a new fitting or new pipes all together. Even more challenging and costly however, are the leaks that you can’t see. Afterall, so much of a plumbing system is unseen. Leaking pipes left unaddressed can lead to water damage and worse, subsequent mold. These are the leaks that result in costly repairs and unhealthy living conditions.

Before you see a dripping ceiling or smell a musty bathroom, consider looking to new technology to help you avoid disaster. AquaTrip is a permanently installed system that constantly monitors the entirety of a building’s plumbing. AquaTrip saves money by curbing potential water damage, reducing excessive water bills and controlling the potential for mold overgrowth. You can learn more about AquaTrip by visiting buyaquatrip.com or call 1-844-4-AQATRP to find out how you can join the Pilot Program for savings up to 50% off!


Golden State Flow Management (GSFM) is the exclusive distributor of AquaTrip leak detection systems in the United States. In bringing AquaTrip to market, we bring with us our twenty years of experience in the conservation, management and optimization of water and its revenue. We are proud of our legacy of providing superb service and collaboration to our clients. AquaTrip gives us a unique opportunity to leverage that experience within a larger market and to offer the property management industry a truly innovative and useful product.

The post Top 5 Water Conservation Tips for Property Managers appeared first on AAOA.

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