Happy New Year!
We want to wish all of our clients a Happy New Year. We hope that you’re off to a great start in 2023!
Christmas 2022 Freeze
The holidays brought us our first hard freeze of the winter season, but no white Christmas in Austin. We spent more than a week preparing tenants with information on how to protect pipes, and reminding them as the freeze got closer. The impact was mitigated for the most part, however there were some unavoidable situations that were out of our control.
One example is a condo under management where the neighboring unit is being used as an AirBnB and was unoccupied during the freeze. The owner must not have made any preparations and the pipes burst thus flooding our client’s unit. The whole building was without water for three days because the availability of vendors was stifled by the holiday and demand across the city. While the neighbor is to blame in our opinion, the only thing you can do is make sure you’re properly insured in this situation because it is likely going to be a long, drawn out fight if you were to pursue the neighbor for the repairs. This is where a good insurance policy will take care of the damages and pursue the responsible party under standard clauses in most policies. While we’re not insurance experts we have some experience dealing with these situations, and always recommend planning for the unforeseen by protecting yourself through a reliable insurer.
Leasing Market Update
If you saw our post last month about the shifts in the real estate sales and leasing market you are already up to date on general market conditions which haven’t changed much. We did see an uptick in properties being leased right after the start of the new year, and we’ll have to wait to see what the sales market does as the new year gets underway.
If you didn’t get a chance to read last month’s post or watch our Broker’s video about the rental market here is a link.
Tax Protest Season is Coming
The 2022 protest season was very successful, and we’re already gearing up for the 2023 season. With the real estate market finally seeming to run out of rocket fuel it’s important to protest if you don’t already participate with us or another provider. Most appraisal districts use blanket valuations that don't take into consideration the various factors impacting the value of your property. They rely on the fact that most people will not protest their value, thus only those that protest benefit from the process and potentially end up with a tax bill that is likely to be closer to actual market value.
If you’d like to set up tax protests for this year please contact your property manager, or if you’re already set up you can review your account or make changes directly in your partner portal at https://hometaxshield.com/auth/signin or request a new magic link. Make sure to use the email address we have on file for you.
1099 Season is upon us
Last month we mentioned that we’re sending out mailing address verifications to prepare for the tax form mailing. If you haven’t gotten that email or verified your address please do as soon as possible. You can also set up electronic delivery of tax forms through your owner portal by logging in on the top right at stoneoakmgmt.com and going to the settings.
We are working on getting these out to you ahead of the January 31st deadline, however that is the latest they will be published and paper copies mailed for those who request them.
Second Annual Employee Charity Drive
Last year we started a new company tradition where our team is asked to nominate up to two non-profit organizations for consideration to be supported on their behalf The only requirements are that they are classified as a 501c3 in the US, their mission is not political or religious in nature, and they cannot be wedge issue (abortion, guns, etc) based orgs. In our second run at this our team came up with some organizations that they wanted to support because they truly appreciated their mission and/or had a direct impact on something that was going on in their life. We’re proud of our team for caring about the world we live in and the people around us. Here is the list of orgs, in no particular order, that we supported in 2022:
Maintenance Approval Process Changes
In addition to the info below about funding repairs we want to notify all owners that we are modifying our escalation process when we can’t reach our clients in order to make sure we are complying with property code requirements. In bonafide emergencies we are acting within our authority to mitigate damages, however after it has been contained or in non-emergency situations we reach out to our clients for work authorization that is required above the limit set in the management agreement. In those cases we now have a strict process going into effect that will have a time based escalation if we cannot reach you. The time frame will be that if we can’t reach you by the 3rd day from when we first reached out we will then reach out to your emergency contact who can aid us in getting authorization or contacting you. If you’d like to update your emergency contact we have on file please contact your property manager. Keep in mind that this contact should be someone outside of your immediate household who you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot be reached by them or us.
Funding Make-Readies & Maintenance for Your Property
Please note that it is Stone Oak's policy that the owner has reserve funding on hand with Stone Oak to help us commence work faster when it comes to make-readies and maintenance on your property. Stone Oak cannot perform maintenance without first receiving authorization and funding, which can slow down the turn-around times on our vendors and their availability in this market. This can also potentially create a negative experience that tenants will remember when it comes time to renew, and we always want to avoid turning over the tenants. Any time we request authorization for work on your property, the best practice is to immediately fund your account when you provide written authorization to move forward. This is as simple as going into your owner portal and using ACH for a free transfer, or if you prefer a credit card the processor charges a fee as part of the transaction.
Keep in mind that tenant charges on your account are not considered an offset to this amount as we keep a strict accounting system for both our and our client's benefits. Any tenant chargeable items will be posted to their account, and once they are paid it is immediately credited to your account. If you have any questions about this reserve amount held with Stone Oak please contact your property manager.
Thank you for being a client of Stone Oak Property Management. We look forward to 2023 as your Austin property manager.