09 Jun 2014
The response when looking to hire a building industry professional normally sounds something like, “My accountant knows a contractor who can do the job.” Until recently, this industry has been heavily promoted through word-of-mouth recommendations by friends, family and colleagues with very little help from technology.
Honest Buildings (HB) is hoping to change all that by using technology to speed up productivity, helping decision makers find and meet the right people for their next project.
Founded in 2011 by brother and sister Riggs Kubiak and Garrett Kubiak along with Cody Robert, this website focuses on efficiently and effectively connecting professional builders and vendors. With a combined experience of commercial real estate, online advertising and developing internet applications, these partners created the the world’s leading connection for real estate projects.
Riggs says, “We operate with the belief that finding the right building experts should be simple, transparent and honest.” HB’s proprietary algorithm helps make this possible by easily connecting decision makers, including investors, owners, developers and property managers, with a vendor that fits their building needs.
Decision makers provide the specific qualifications for the project they are looking to complete. The research team then compiles a shortlist of the most relevant, best-qualified vendors to choose from, eliminating the need for word-of-mouth recommendations. The list they receive only includes candidates who would be a perfect fit for their project. In turn, vendors can also use HB as a tool to find the service providers they need to get the job done.
The company’s beta platform launched in 2012 and is now getting inquiries from across the globe. In 2013 alone, HB originated $55M in transactions working with architects, contractors, engineers and technology companies. Since January of 2014, they have originated an additional $110M in deals proving the undeniable need for this type of service in the world of real estate.
The website also enables real estate investors and developers to quickly and easily attain a list of architects, engineers, contractors and technology professionals and find potential companies to help them increase the value of their property through building or maintenance. Riggs says, “We’re excited to bring the commercial real estate world online.”
To create a free profile or view other candidates for your future building needs, visit honestbuildings.com.
05 Jun 2014
Bookkeepers and accountants have access to all your key financial information and with today’s technology, businesses are more susceptible to theft than ever before. Now that you know how to spot bookkeeper theft, check out these 5 ways you can prevent it from ever happening.
If you have not been keeping a sharp eye on the books, processes and people involved with your bookkeeping, you need to figure out a way to do so quickly.
You don’t need to be an accountant to provide basic oversight, but you do need to dedicate the time and patience to understand how your books and records are being kept—how the bills, client receipts, payroll and petty cash are being managed and generally speaking, what the intake of cash is and what the outflow should be. This is a big job depending on the type of business you are in.
2. People factor
Motivations of bookkeeper theft can vary. If you have an “off the street” bookkeeper, conduct a background check even if they have been with you for some time. If you have a relative doing your books, tune into their personal lives and make sure there are no issues that might cause them to steal your money.
If your bookkeeper calls out a lot, misses work, is not reliable or can’t look you in the eye, then there might be some kind of addictive behavior going on. If so, then there is a good chance that your money might become a target for theft.
Use your intuition and act on it!
There are quite a few things you can do here to give yourself an advantage you did not have before. Take credit and debits cards for example. Call your account company or go to the online account and look for the settings sections. You can set up each account/card so that when a purchase is made you get an automated phone call, email or both.
This can work as both a preventative solution (tell the bookkeeper/employee that this is the case) or in stealth mode (if you suspect someone and are trying to catch them). This way whenever a purchase is made you will be alerted in real time and can decide if the purchase was for the company or not.
You can also make any bank statements and account information “read only” so that if you need your bookkeeper to have access to the online records, they cannot go in and actually transfer funds or change information.
4. Protocol and procedure
Once you have an idea of where and how theft might occur, set up a list of protocols that you follow every month to keep a better eye on things. Make people put a receipt in the petty cash box when they take out money and restrict the use on the credit cards and corporate debit for just the places they might be using it for business.
Once a month you can also print out a detailed transaction list. This will take some time on your part, however, it’s time well spent. Look for transactions (payments) you are not familiar with or did not approve and eyeball the payroll sections, invoices and deposits. If you are not using technology to manage your books then you should consider investing in a computer and accounting software right away.
5. Outsource your bookkeeping
Consider outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting to a reputable firm. They can be local or virtual, and should be able to put policy and procedure in place that gives you peace of mind, security and insurance.
If you hire a part or full time bookkeeper off the street, you really have no way of telling how good, reliable or honest they are. If you don’t have the time to manage and oversee your accounting and bookkeeping then outsourcing may be a good option.
Real estate investors already have enough things occupying their time.
These steps will help you save money by spending less time overseeing your books and more time making deals.
For more tips on managing your bookkeeper and accounting, you can visit smartbookscorp.com and download the free E-book.
Photo by: Clearly Too Much.
03 Jun 2014
With the height of rental season rapidly approaching, New York City is set to see an exponential increase in first time real estate investors looking to rent out their properties. According to Redfin, as a growing number of New Yorkers and 39% of prospective homebuyers nationwide consider renting their property, it’s important to understand how to maximize a property’s appeal.
1. Make sure to enhance curb appeal
If a property’s exterior appears neglected, it will directly impact the value, as potential tenants will conclude the building is poorly maintained. While keeping up with the landscaping is highly important, it’s also good to keep other aspects such as the appearance of the sidewalk, awnings, entry level doors and windows in pristine condition.
2. Use lighter finishes to amplify space
In a real estate marketplace renowned for its limited space, it’s crucial to make a space appear larger than it actually is. Using darker finishes negatively impacts a room by making it appear cramped and smaller. Instead, utilize lighter finishes, such as white or eggshell, to reflect light and lend the room a more spacious feel.
3. Leave units unfurnished
According to STR, extended stay hotels are increasing in popularity, with revenue per available room rising 5.7% last year alone and New York City has seen a decline in popularity of furnished units. Rooms that remain unfurnished tend to go faster than those that are, as most tenants will want to furnish their apartments if they stay over 6 months or a year.
The leasing pool for unfurnished apartments is also much larger.
4. Maximize space by repurposing underutilized rooms
As most New Yorkers tend to underuse rooms such as dining rooms, these become obsolete and underutilized space. By repurposing these unnecessary rooms as bedrooms, investors can appeal to a wider range of tenants, while increasing profits made from increased rental rates.
This article was published by Dylan Pichulik, CEO and founder of NYC-based XL Real Property Management. He provides property management services focused on managing individual units, townhouses and small buildings owned by foreign and local investors, as well as off-site owners.
Photo by: helveticaneue.