Plan Now for 2023 Property Maintenance

Planning for your property portfolio’s routine maintenance and scheduled updates can help you manage your cash flow and keep your tenants happy. Now is a great time to plan for your 2023 property maintenance.

Schedule Your Walkthroughs Now

Walkthroughs help you keep a pulse on each of your properties. You can perform your walkthroughs yourself or outsource them to your property management team. We suggest walking through each of your properties at least once a quarter. Now is a good time to get all of your 2023 walkthroughs on your calendar.

During a walkthrough, look for obvious signs of damage as well as routing maintenance tasks that need to be completed, such as replacing light bulbs, checking smoke detectors, and replacing HVAC filters. Be ready to interact with your tenants and respond to their urgent requests.

Arrange Regular Cleaning Services

Every portfolio benefits from regular review of maintenance vendors. Whether you already have a cleaning service you trust or you’re on the hunt for a new relationship, reviewing your current cleaning needs and adjusting your contract can help you manage expenses while continuing to keep your tenants happy.

If you have a commercial cleaning service, be sure to confirm that your properties are on their schedule for 2023. Be sure to ask them if their services or rates have changed since last year. Then, confirm when you can expect them to visit your properties, whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

Schedule HVAC Maintenance Visits

While you’re arranging your cleaning services, be sure to reach out to your HVAC vendor and schedule your 2023 maintenance visits. No one wants to be surprised by an HVAC issue when it’s -20 degrees outside.

When you’re scheduling your routine HVAC maintenance, confirm that your service provider is available for emergency repairs and maintenance. Don’t forget to ask about any rate increases so you’re not surprised if and when an HVAC emergency occurs.

Confirm Snow Removal and Landscaping Services

As you’re making your calls to your cleaning and HVAC providers, add your landscaping and snow removal company to the list. Exterior maintenance is as important as interior maintenance is. Your properties’ curb appeal helps you attract and retain tenants. Regular exterior maintenance helps you avoid more costly repairs down the road, too.

On your call, confirm your properties are on the vendor’s list for snow removal. Then, ask them when you can expect spring cleanup and regular warm-weather maintenance to start.

Plan for Investments in Updates and Upgrades

When you’re budgeting, it’s important to not only plan for routine maintenance costs but also for anticipated updates and upgrades to your properties’ mechanical systems, exterior features, and interior finishes. They may include a new HVAC system, updated windows, a new roof, or replacing the flooring throughout a building. All of these costs are normal and should be expected, which is why they should be a part of your budgeting and forecasting planning.

Commercial property maintenance can be a full-time job, especially if you own more than one property. That’s why many property owners outsource maintenance to a professional commercial property management company like Clarity Commercial. To work with one of our professional property managers, contact Clarity Commercial today.

 

We’re Grateful for the Clarity Commercial Team

We’re in the season of gratitude and giving, and this year, we want to give a special shoutout to the entire Clarity Commercial team. Our team of property managers are some of the most talented in the Twin Cities metro area. Take a moment to learn more about them and why they’re the best of the best.

Taylor Sonnenfeld, CPM, CCAM

Taylor’s been a member of the Clarity team since June 2019. In that time, she’s earned her CPM® designation and was nominated for IREM’s 2021-22 Next-Gen CPM Leaders program. Taylor manages more than 200,000 square feet of office, retail, restaurant, and medical space. When she’s not managing properties, Taylor enjoys reading, cycling, and spending time with her friends and family.

Tom Larson, CCAM

Tom joined the Clarity Commercial crew in September 2021 after a 25-year career running a successful courier business and managing 135 employees in five states. He brings his problem-solving skills and love of serving customers to his property management work at Clarity. His clients appreciate his prompt communication, vast network of resources, and ability to proactively find solutions to their challenges.

Lance Juffer

Lance joined the Clarity Commercial team after a 23-year successful financial planning career. He’s managed his own portfolio of commercial real estate for more than 12 years. Lance enjoys helping building owners lease, buy, and sell their properties. His financial background is an asset to his clients, as Lance is able to advise them on potential tax strategies.

Collette Altfillisch

Collette joined the Clarity team in July 2022. She has spent her entire 20-year career in property management in the Twin Cities. Collette brings her strong communication skills, leadership capabilities, and property management know-how to every client relationship.

Dave Thomas, Tyler Sutton, and Sarah Schultz

Dave, Tyler, and Sarah are the latest additions to the Clarity Commercial team. Together, they bring years of experience in the commercial property and property management industry to our clients. We’re looking forward to seeing where their careers with Clarity take them, and we’re grateful to have them aboard.

Mel Schultz, CPM. CCTM, CCAM

Mel’s our fearless leader who has been in the real estate business since 2003. Clients appreciate Mel’s professionalism, personality, and integrity. In addition to running Clarity Commercial, Mel is heavily involved in IREM’s Minnesota chapter. He served as the organization’s president in 2014 and earned the 2017 Spirit of IREM award. He’s also served at the national level within IREM. When he’s not managing properties, Mel can be found at his kids’ many activities.

We’re grateful for the hardworking Clarity Commercial team. To work with one of our professional property managers, contact Clarity Commercial today.

 

Fall Cleanup for Commercial Properties in Minnesota

Have you noticed the uptick in landscaping crews out and about recently? It’s go time in Minnesota for fall cleanup for commercial properties. October and November are the prime months for getting your commercial landscaping cleaned up and ready for winter. Here is what you can expect from your landscaping company when they perform fall cleanup at your property.

1. Remove Leaves

Raking leaves is an autumn ritual in Minnesota, one that homeowners and commercial landscapers alike will perform several times before the trees stop dropping their leaves. Expect your landscaping crew to remove leaves from your property every two weeks through October and November. Removing leaves from your property improves soil health, reduces the chance of a slip and fall accident on walkways, and ensures your gutters and drains remain clear throughout the season.

2. Mow and Fertilize Your Grass

After they remove your leaves, your commercial landscaping crew will mow your grass. Grass grows until the first hard frost, which usually happens in October. At some point in October and November, they will also fertilize your lawn. They may overseed and aerate it to encourage fuller growth. This prepares your grass for a healthy season next year.

3. Prune Perennials

One of the last fall cleanup tasks your landscaping company will perform is pruning back your property’s perennials. Deadheading flowers and removing dead foliage increases airflow to the soil and reduces the chances of disease. Environmentally savvy landscapers may choose to keep some of your perennials intact during pruning to create habitat for bees and other beneficial insects to overwinter.

4. Tree and Shrub Care

Your landscaping crew will give the larger plants on your property some attention, too. Fall is a good time to prune many species of shrubs and trees. Your landscaping crew may trim back branches that are obstructing walkways or electrical wires or are getting too close to your building. If a tree on your property requires removal, they may bring in a tree removal team to safely and expertly remove the tree.

5. Prepare Your Property for Winter

Once their last fall cleanup task is complete, don’t be surprised if your landscaping company drops off snow shovels, ice melt, sand, and other snow and ice removal supplies. You may see snow plow markers show up along the edges of your parking lot to guide plows when the first flakes arrive. When you see these items appear, it is a good time to confirm that you’re on your snow removal company’s schedule for the upcoming season.

Landscaping and fall cleanup are just a few of the services Clarity Commercial can coordinate for you as your property management company. To partner with us and our landscaping vendors, contact Clarity Commercial today.

Fall 2022 IREM Property Manager Professional Development Events

Clarity Commercial is a proud, active member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Minnesota. IREM Minnesota offers continuing education for property managers who work in commercial real estate. Here’s a look at what’s coming up in the fourth quarter of 2022—there’s a lot on the calendar! Be sure to check the IREM website for additional opportunities as they are scheduled.

Managing a Large Fire Loss | September 29

Excelsior fire marshal Kellie Murphy-Ringate leads this 90-minute training for property managers. Learn what happens if your building experiences a large fire loss, who’s involved in the aftermath, and what to expect during the claims and clean-up process. This training will likely be eligible for 1 hour of real estate continuing education.

Register today on the IREM website.

Hoarding in Commercial Buildings | November 2

Yes, it happens. Learn what you can do if you discover a hoarding issue in your commercial building. SERVPRO of Minnetonka owner Scott Clemente leads the discussion, giving an overview of hoarding, the challenges it poses to you as a property manager, and what you can do about it. This course is approved for one hour of real estate continuing education.

Register today on the IREM website.

CAPTRK CPM Capstone Track (MPSAXM, CPMEXM) | November 14

Tom Elmer, CPM®, CPA leads a two-day intensive prep followed by the MPSA exam and CPM certification exam. The two-day intensive prep takes place November 14–15 online or in-person at the IREM Minnesota chapter office. Participants have seven days after the prep session to complete the MPSA exam. Participants have 30 days after the prep session to complete the CPM certification exam. The prep course and two exams comprise the CPM capstone track. These courses meet the program requirements for CPM certification.

Register today on the IREM website.

IREM Certified Sustainable Property (CSP)

Your certification is waiting

Earning IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification is meaningful recognition that says a lot about you and your property. The IREM CSP is applicable to a wide variety of properties and many hard-to-certify properties have already earned the certification. The process is understandable and actionable, so not only can you do it, but you can do it on your own. It’s likely that you’re already implementing many of the required practices. It’s more affordable than you might expect too. If it’s something you’ve thought about in the past, now’s the time to act.

Click here to learn more about the certification.

Clarity Commercial owner Mel Schultz, CPM, CCIM, CCAM, is an active IREM member. He is passionate about continuing education in the commercial real estate industry. For more information about IREM and how our participation in the organization helps you, contact Clarity Commercial today.

Your Commercial Building’s Sustainability Analysis

A sustainability analysis for your commercial building or property portfolio can help you identify areas of improvement in energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and energy costs. Clarity Commercial can perform this analysis for you and create a plan for making any recommended improvements. Here’s a look at what a sustainability analysis assesses and how you can use one to improve your properties.

Benefits of a Sustainability Analysis

Nearly 40 percent of global carbon emissions are attributed to commercial buildings, and nearly half of all energy use in the United States is associated with buildings and construction. These figures include the energy and materials used to construct buildings as well as their ongoing energy needs to maintain a comfortable and safe environment.

According to Deloitte, green buildings use up to 50 percent less energy than non-green buildings. They also use 40 percent less water and produce approximately 70 percent less solid waste. What’s more, green buildings dominate the market in some areas, making it more difficult for non-green buildings to compete, resulting in lower-than-average rent rates.

A sustainability analysis of your commercial properties identifies your buildings’ environmental footprint and identifies areas where you can improve efficiency and performance to cut back on energy use and costs. These improvements not only help you save money and energy over time, they can help you attract and retain tenants who are environmentally conscious or require spaces with cleaner indoor air.

What We Look at in Our Sustainability Analysis

If you’re not building a new property from the ground up, it is possible to make sustainable improvements to your existing non-green building. A sustainability analysis from Clarity Commercial will review your property’s energy usage and sources, heating and cooling system, ventilation system, windows, landscaping, and other factors that contribute to the efficiency and sustainability of your property.

From there, we will make recommendations for improvements that you can incorporate into your budget projections for future projects. For example, you may know that your building is due for an HVAC update in the next five years. Our sustainability analysis may recommend you consider energy-efficient upgrades for this project that will lower your energy costs over the next fifteen years. Or, we may recommend upgrading your building’s air ventilation system to improve indoor air quality to create a safer, more comfortable property.

Sustainability analysis is just one service we offer at Clarity Commercial. To learn more about our other property management services, contact the Clarity team today.

Marketing Your Commercial Property to Attract the Right Tenants

Attracting the right tenants to your commercial property can help you grow your commercial portfolio without investing in additional properties. Understanding your local market, building a list of target tenants, and employing the right marketing strategies can help you find the perfect, long-term tenants for your portfolio.

Understand Your Local Market

Your local market plays a large role in your success finding tenants. Let’s say you own a medical building. Are you the only medical building in your area, or are you close to other clinics or a hospital? What are the vacancy rates in the buildings around you? What amenities do these buildings offer, and how do they compare to yours?

Answering these questions in regard to your neighbors and neighborhood can help you understand your local market and the types of tenants who may be attracted to your area. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to craft sales and marketing materials that speak to the benefits of leasing in your building.

Understand Your Ideal Tenant

Once you understand your local market, it’s time to do some research on your ideal tenant. There’s more to understanding your ideal tenant than simply wanting them to pay rent on time. You’ll want to decide how long your ideal lease is, the tenant improvements you’re willing and unwilling to make, and the types of businesses that would fit well with your current mix of tenants.

Invest in Photography

Professional photography is one of the best investments you can make in the marketing of your property. Many tenants look for space online, and having lots of beautiful photos of your property can separate it from other available spaces. You can take your listing to the next level with video or interactive walkthroughs of your building and tenant suites.

Blend Traditional and Digital Marketing Strategies

With your professional photography and videography in hand, it’s time to create your property’s listing. You will have a greater chance of finding the ideal tenant if you blend traditional and digital marketing strategies. Develop a one-pager for your property that you can send digitally as a pdf or hand out to potential tenants. Be sure to create an online listing for your available space and promote it on social media, too.

Property owners who partner with Clarity Commercial can take advantage of our online listings as well as our full suite of done-for-you marketing services. We maintain and up-to-date list of available properties for lease on our website. Our property managers work tirelessly to market your property to your ideal tenants, including digital marketing, print marketing, and flexing their professional networks.

For expert help marketing your commercial property, get in touch with the Clarity Commercial team today.

Upcoming IREM Property Manager Professional Development Events

Clarity Commercial is a proud, active member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Minnesota. IREM Minnesota offers continuing education for property managers who work in commercial real estate. Here’s a look at what’s coming up in the third quarter of 2022. Be sure to check the IREM website for additional opportunities as they are scheduled.

Hearts and Hammers Volunteer Event | September 15

Join fellow IREM members for the Hearts and Hammers volunteer event on September 15. The all-day event will be a great chance to do some good in your community while networking with other commercial property managers.

Learn more on the IREM website.

ASMTRK Asset Management Track (ASM603, ASM604, ASM605) | September 19–23

IREM’s asset management track builds your knowledge of financing and valuation of real estate assets. Join instructor Tom Elmer, CPM®, CPA, and IREM Minnesota for a week of intensive training. On September 19 and 20, complete ASM603: Financing and Loan Analysis for Investment Real Estate. On September 21 and 22, complete ASM604: Performance and Valuation of Investment Real Estate. Finish the asset management track on September 23 with ASM605: Asset Analysis of Investment Real Estate. These courses meet the program requirements for CPM certification.

Register today on the IREM website.

CAPTRK CPM Capstone Track (MPSAXM, CPMEXM) | November 14

Tom Elmer, CPM®, CPA leads a two-day intensive prep followed by the MPSA exam and CPM certification exam. The two-day intensive prep takes place November 14–15 online or in-person at the IREM Minnesota chapter office. Participants have seven days after the prep session to complete the MPSA exam. Participants have 30 days after the prep session to complete the CPM certification exam. The prep course and two exams comprise the CPM capstone track. These courses meet the program requirements for CPM certification.

Register today on the IREM website.

Clarity Commercial owner Mel Schultz, CPM, CCIM, CCAM, is an active IREM member. He is passionate about continuing education in the commercial real estate industry. For more information about IREM and how our participation in the organization helps you, contact Clarity Commercial today.

Understanding Tenant Operating Expense Reconciliation

Operating expense reconciliation is a common practice between tenants and landlords. Performing this type of reconciliation can help property owners better understand their tenant income and expenses so they can create more accurate annual budgets and better anticipate future costs.

Here’s a look at how Clarity Commercial helps our property owners with operating expense reconciliation.

Explaining Operating Expense Reconciliation

The first step in helping property owners with operating expense reconciliation is to explain just what it is and how it helps them. Operating expenses include utilities, property insurance, real estate taxes, maintenance, repairs, cleaning services, and other expenses. These expenses are passed on to tenants every year. The amount tenants pay is based on an estimate of what the property owner anticipates these expenses will be, based on past data.

Sometimes, the property owner’s estimate is spot-on. Other times expenses exceed the estimate. And happily, there are times when expenses come in lower than anticipated. Once the final numbers are in, property owners have the responsibility to share the results with tenants. Generally, if tenants underpaid, the property owner bills tenants for their share of the overage. If tenants overpaid, the landlord cuts them a check for the difference or issues a rent credit. How reconciliation is performed should be stipulated in the tenants’ lease agreements.

Why Reconciling Operating Expenses Is Important

Without going through the process of reconciliation, property owners would not have an accurate picture of their expenses or whether their current rent rates or lease agreements adequately cover expenses. Over time, the reconciliation process should provide an increasingly accurate picture of expenses (other than large, unforeseen costs). This can help a property owner better manage income and cash flow. If property owners habitually undercharge tenants for expenses, they may not have enough cash to cover expenses throughout the year. If they overcharge tenants, they may face cash flow issues in the next year after rent credits or checks have gone out.

Operating expense reconciliation is an important step in the property management process. The Clarity Commercial team performs reconciliations for our clients. For help with your own operating expenses or other tenant management challenges, get in touch with our team today

How Regular Site Inspections Can Help You Manage Expenses

We’ve all heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true for commercial property management. Not only do regular site inspections help property owners avoid expensive emergency repairs, they can help property owners plan for capital improvements and other big-ticket investments. At Clarity Commercial, we perform regular site inspections of all of our clients’ properties to help them plan expenses and save money.

Regular Exterior Site Inspections

Exterior site inspections help property owners quickly address any emergent issues with the exteriors of their buildings, their parking lots, and their grounds. Clarity Commercial performs regular exterior site inspections. We understand that drive-by inspections are rarely effective, so our managers always get out of the car and walk around the building and parking lots to look for potential repairs or maintenance issues.
An exterior site inspection should include a close look at the building’s windows and siding to look for damaged or weathered trim, missing bricks, clogged gutters, and other issues. Managers should check the building’s doors and locks to ensure they are working properly. They should also pay attention to the condition of the walkways and driveway to make sure there are no trip and fall hazards. Lighting should be on and in good working order, too.

A quick look at the landscaping will identify whether the grass and flower beds are being maintained on an appropriate schedule. Long grass, weeds, or dead plants may prompt a call to the landscape company.

Regular Interior Site Inspections

Regular and frequent interior site inspections can keep surprises at bay. On our regular interior site inspections, the Clarity Commercial team will check the interior lighting to ensure hallways and tenant spaces are adequately lit. We will check doors to make sure they are working properly and inspect walls for dents, scrapes, and other damage.

An interior site inspection should also check the building’s heating, cooling, and air ventilation systems to ensure they are working properly. In many cases, we ask our HVAC partners to perform this specialized inspection. During our interior site inspection, we may also meet with tenants to ensure any maintenance and repair requests get handled promptly.

Regular site inspections are an integral part of the commercial property management process. The Clarity Commercial team learns a lot from the site inspections we perform. Sometimes, there are maintenance and repairs we can perform immediately, while other inspections uncover future maintenance and upgrade costs. Anticipating these costs help property owners plan for future investments and avoid paying for emergency repairs.

If you haven’t had your commercial property inspected in a while, get in touch with the Clarity Commercial team. We can work with you to ensure your buildings are in good working order and help you manage your maintenance and repair expenses.

 

Upcoming IREM Property Manager Professional Development Events

Clarity Commercial AMO® is a proud, active member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) Minnesota. This year, IREM Minnesota offers commercial property managers a full slate of professional and personal development opportunities. Here’s a look at what’s coming up in the second quarter of 2022.

FIN 402 Budgeting, Cash Flow and Reporting for Investment Real Estate | April 4

Managing a portfolio of investment properties requires some financial know-how. In this IREM course, instructor Tom Elmer, CFO of Oakwood Partners, LLC, goes over basic accounting practices and budgeting for investment portfolios. Then, he’ll do a deep dive on cash flow analysis and how to use data for forecasting and modeling. You won’t want to miss it!

Enroll in the training on the IREM website.

The Development of Malcolm Yards—Tour | April 12

Join IREM MN for a happy hour and tour of the brand-new multiuse neighborhood in Prospect Park called Malcolm Yards. Formerly the Harris Machinery Building, Malcolm Yards features a food gallery, historic grain elevators, and Surly Brewing.

RSVP today on the IREM website.

ALM Barrel House Building Tour & Happy Hour | April 14

Why limit yourself to one happy hour a week? Join IREM MN for a tour and happy hour at the Barrel House, hosted by the Advancing Leaders of Minnesota committee. The event is free to attend, but you do have to register first.

RSVP today on the IREM website.

Save the Date for the 2022 Golf Tournament | June 6

IREM’s annual golf tournament is back and better than ever! Register yourself and your team for a day on the links at Mendakota Country Club. More information coming soon!

Get the details on the IREM website.

Clarity Commercial AMO® owner Mel Schultz, CPM, CCIM, CCAM, is an active IREM member. He is passionate about continuing education in the commercial real estate industry. For more information about IREM and how our participation in the organization helps you, contact Clarity Commercial AMO® today.