Calendar icon February 6, 2023

Five Easy Steps to Allergy-Proof Your Home

 

For many of us, spring is the season of allergies. While it may be the worst season for a lot of people, allergies can be an all-year-long issue. It's true, the outdoors can be a treacherous place for a lot of people in the summer, fall, and even the dead months of winter. While you can't get rid of the allergens floating around outside, you can take steps to minimize the amount of allergens that can get inside your home. Here are five tips to allergy-proof your home.

Wash clothes frequently

Allergens can enter your home in many ways, with one of the most common involving hitching a ride on your clothes. The best way to counter this, obviously, is to wash your clothes frequently and at the right temperature.

It's no secret that hot water is best. Hot water kills pesky allergens like dust mites and is more effective than cold water at removing particles like pollen from clothes.

A study from the American Thoracic Society1 recently showed that washing clothes at 140ºF will kill 100% of dust mites. Washing at a still quite hot 104ºF will kill less than 7% of dust mites. That’s quite a big difference and essential for those with allergies.

That's the upside to washing your clothes in hot water: it's excellent at cleaning allergens and particles out of them. The downside is that it costs more to heat the water to 140ºF, and not all articles of clothing can be washed in that level of heat. If you're not able to kill allergens with hot water, there are alternatives.

Most newer washing machines out there have sanitize wash settings. This setting washes your clothes with super hot water of at least 165ºF, which well exceeds the temperature necessary to kill pests and germs.

You can purchase allergen-targeting laundry detergent. This detergent formula contains an additive known as ACARIL, which effectively removes allergens from bedding and clothes during the wash cycle. It works absent of temperature, so you don't need to wash your clothes on high heat for it to work, and it is safe to use with all colors and fabrics. If you already have a detergent that you like, you can purchase ACARIL by itself.

Consider hardwood

An allergen's dream home would be made entirely of carpet. The floor would be carpet. The walls would be the carpet. The ceiling would be carpet. You get the point.

A carpet allergy is a two-fold attacker. Sometimes you're allergic to the actual carpet itself and the materials used to make it. More often, you're simply allergic to the common allergens that get caught in your carpet and then released into the air when you walk on it.

Carpet is a repository for allergens. Dust can build up inside of it with ease and be extremely difficult to remove. Particles like pet dander that feature jagged edges stick to carpet without any effort. In fact, all of these allergens are commonly found in household carpets.

  • Pollen
  • Dander
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Smoke
  • Bacteria

Indeed, some people are actually allergic to certain materials in carpets. But most people that have a "carpet allergy" actually just have an intolerance to an allergen that has entrenched itself in their carpets. One potential solution is just to get rid of the carpet altogether. This is actually recommended by multiple allergy-focused organizations including the American Lung Association2.

Opting for hardwood floors instead can save the allergy sufferer a lot of sneezing. Particles in your air will still settle on hardwood just like they do on carpet, but they are considerably easier to remove with a vacuum because they cannot get stuck inside the material.

You can still add throw rugs to get that homey feel while minimizing allergens. Make sure to buy washing machine safe ones and simply run a load of rugs about once a week.

The downside with hardwood is obviously the price, and if that's enough of a deterrent, or you just really really want carpet, you have a few options. First, always use low pile carpeting. "Low pile" simply means that the strands of material that make up the carpet are shorter. With this type of carpet, the crevices for allergens to hide in are smaller, making it harder for them to get stuck, making them easy to remove with a vacuum. Never ever ever use high pile carpeting if you have a common allergy. You will not enjoy your time with it.

Weatherstripping

One way that sneaky particles like pollen and bacteria can get into your home is through drafts and incomplete seals along windows and doors. Sealing off those unintentional airways with some weatherstripping is a quick and generally pretty easy way to keep those allergens out of your home.

Weatherstripping's primary goal is to lower your energy bill, but cutting off sources of air pollution is a secondary benefit of this home maintenance task. Weatherstripping is especially valuable in this role to homes in places that see higher than average levels of outdoor air pollution such as Los Angeles.

There are tons of different types of weatherstripping, most of which can be used in several situations and are extremely easy to install. First, you have to figure out if you have drafts and where they are. An energy audit from a professional will give you detailed descriptions of where you need to add weatherstripping. If you prefer to conduct the search yourself, there are a few ways to identify drafts.

There are tons of different types of weatherstripping, many of which are adhesive-backed, making their installation process as easy as sticking it to something. Others require nailing in, such as a door sweep, which protects your home from drafts coming from underneath doors. Read more about all the types of weatherstripping right here.

Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter

Make sure to invest in a quality vacuum that will suck up allergens from all types of flooring and keep them locked away until you clean it out. The way to do this is to purchase a vacuum that contains a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particle Arrestance—it's basically a supercharged filter.

A true HEPA filter is required to catch at least 99.7% of particles larger than 0.3 microns in diameter. That's extremely tiny.

You cannot use a HEPA filter in your home because it will cut off too much airflow to the HVAC unit, but that is not an issue inside a vacuum. Get a vacuum with the best filter you possibly can to ensure that it traps as many tiny allergens as possible. This will stop pollutants from recirculating into the air.

Change your air filter

woman changing filter

Bar-none, the most effective way to improve your IAQ of allergens is to use a high quality air filter and change it with regularity. Like weatherstripping, this will also help lower your energy bill, but its primary function is cleaning the air.

Many pollutants that infiltrate the air you breathe are so small they aren't cute anymore. No matter how many precautions you take to protect your home's air from the threats outside, some pollutants will still get inside. To get these out of your house, you need a filter you can trust to catch these pollutants.

A fiberglass air filter can never be counted on to catch even medium-sized pollutants, much less small ones. These pollutants will simply recirculate through your ductwork and back into your home, where they're free to be inhaled into your lungs. The ones that don't will get caught in your HVAC system and create buildup that can lead to costly repairs or breakdown.

Washable filters may get these small particles, but they'll struggle with larger ones, which there are usually more of and just as harmful to your indoor air quality.

Instead, get a pleated air filter with a MERV 8 rating or higher. If you suffer from allergies, own pets, or deal with various pollution issues, upgrade to a MERV 11 or MERV 13 filter. Pollutants that get past all your initial defenses and enter the air in your home won't last long against a pleated air filter.

Turns out that de-allergyifiyng (definitely a real word) your home just requires a few routine practices that you probably already do anyway. You just need to adjust how you do them slightly. Some things you can even take off your to-do list instead of adding them, such as changing your air filter. Check out Second Nature's air filters subscription service to never have to think about using the right air filter again.

Keep learning

Chambers Theory Endorses Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package

Chambers Theory is a world-renowned property management team with clients in more than 30 countries worldwide. They specialize in serving the U.S. military, State Department, and Foreign Services families. Their motto “Real Estate With Intelligence” is more than just a saying. It’s on full display through the introductory videos for landlords and residents on their website in seven languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, French, Croatian, and English) - all spoken fluently by their own property management (PM) team. Since its founding in 2018, Chambers Theory has been achieving extraordinary performance benchmarks. They’ve led the marketplace in delivering the “Golden Triangle of Success” to their clients, which means the lowest vacancy, the highest average rents, and the highest quality of tenants of any property management firm in its same service area. They’ve also donated over $100,000 to local charities and community organizations, while also leading the way in promoting sustainability practices in real estate and property management services. Their outstanding team attributes their success to their ability to develop and utilize their emotional intelligence skills to capacity to care with all their interactions with both landlords and residents. That’s why they fully endorse the Resident Benefits Package at Second Nature! Find out more about what a Resident Benefits Package is, its benefits, and how it can help create a Triple Win for you, as well as your residents and investors. Related: The State of Resident Experience Report

Calendar icon July 18, 2024

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Investor Experience Platform™️ IXP™️

An Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP) in property management is a suite of products, services, and benefits offered by property management companies to property investors. Just like a resident benefits package is a way to drive value for residents, investors, and property managers, the IBP™️ is an innovative approach to property management that focuses on driving value for an investor's assets and turning that value into profit for the property management company. In this article, we’ll dig into the different features that an Investor Experience Platform™️ can include, and how those benefit not just investors, but property managers and residents, too. What Is an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP)? As stated above, an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP™️) is a comprehensive suite of services that offer property investors higher quality property management, stability, and profit. An IBP™️ typically includes concierge-level services beyond basic property management – such as property insurance policies, eviction guarantees, rent guarantees, maintenance plans, asset performance reports, etc. These services are aimed at maximizing the investor’s assets, stability and convenience, profitability, and peace of mind in managing their properties. They're commonly managed through an investor experience platform to securely manage and monitor the performance of these assets online, which we'll discuss later. The first step to outlining an IBP™️ is to define what your basic management fee means and covers. If the answer is, it’s collecting rent, handling maintenance, and general communication – does that include maintenance coordination or is that a separate fee? Does it include asset reporting or is that an additional service? In your management agreement, define what the management fee is, what it covers, and how much it is. An IBP™️ can be an effective tool for articulating the new and differentiated things that an investor wouldn’t be able to do on their own and that you are offering beyond basic property management. Articulate your unique and differentiated services (IBP™️) and use that as a tool for positioning and charging for what it’s worth. What’s Included in An Investor Experience Platform™️? An Investor Experience Platform™️ should include a range of solutions to help deliver consistency, insight, and asset protection to a property owner’s portfolio. After all, professional property managers don’t have to be functional managers of a home – they can be strategic partners in the management of financial assets. You might hear services similar to the IBP™️ called an “owner benefit package,” but at Second Nature, we believe that the “investor” term is useful in encouraging a longer-term mindset, and emphasizes the economic value professional property management can bring. According to Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives at PURE Property Management: “As property managers, we need to think more like asset managers. This client made an investment, and we should be guiding that client through managing that investment, not just collecting rent.” To build and manage a winning IBP™️, property managers need an Investor Experience Platform that unlocks scalable product and service customization, digitized onboarding, accounting policy automation, and more. In addition, Investor Experience Platforms provide transparency and convenience for your investors. Here are some of the most valuable services that property managers can offer through an innovative Investor Experience Platform™️. Property insurance program Similar to offering a renters insurance program through an RBP in the lease agreement, property management companies can offer an insurance plan to investors to cut costs and ensure the safety of their assets. Most management agreements will include the requirement that the investor carries insurance on the property and that the property manager is additionally insured. But what if you as the property manager could help manage that for the investor – at scale? Property Insurance for investors should have dynamic pricing based on individual investors’s property portfolio and needs. The benefit beyond flexibility is the savings they’ll see on their premiums while also getting insurance that’s tailored to the needs of their specific property class. At Second Nature, we work primarily with single-family rental properties and small multi-family residences. Property Insurance Programs can bring scale that will drive economic value for the investor over what they could get retail on their own. They’d still have the option to go get their own insurance that meets requirements, but they can pay you a small fee to manage it for them. Rent guarantee An IBP™️ can include a number of financial guarantees to protect property investors and drive ancillary revenue for PMCs. A rent guarantee, or rent protection, ensures a consistent rental income to investors by protecting them against resident defaults or non-payment of rent. If a resident fails to pay rent, the property management company covers the unpaid amount and takes necessary steps for eviction or collection, providing financial security and minimizing the risk for property owners. Rent guarantees work for professional property management companies that have enough properties to balance the loss of rent if a resident doesn’t pay. The risk is low and the additional profit from fees for this guarantee can have a very high ROI, while driving satisfaction and stability for the investor. Plus, if you’re using services in an RBP to help incentivize on-time rent payments, you’ll rarely find yourself out in the cold. Eviction protection guarantee An eviction protection guarantee also goes beyond the normal scope of property management services and can be used as a secondary source of revenue. Eviction Protection is a service provided by property management companies to property investors that offers additional security and financial protection in the event of an eviction. Under this guarantee, the property management company assumes the costs associated with the eviction process, including legal fees and court expenses. It helps alleviate the financial burden on property investors and provides peace of mind by ensuring that they are safeguarded against potential losses resulting from resident evictions. The eviction guarantee helps protect property owners from the complexities and potential costs associated with evictions, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution to tenant-related issues. Pet guarantees & other guarantees A pet guarantee is a service offered by property management companies to property investors that aims to address any potential issues related to allowing pets in rental properties. It typically involves implementing policies and procedures to ensure responsible pet ownership, such as thorough pet screening, pet agreements, and collecting additional pet deposits or fees. The pet guarantee may also include services like pet damage insurance or assistance with pet-related issues during the lease term. It provides property investors with a framework to accommodate residents with pets while minimizing risks and maintaining the condition of the property. For many residents, finding a pet-friendly apartment increases retention and profitability. They’re willing to stay longer and pay more for a pet-friendly place. And–get this–pet damage is less likely to happen than damage from kids! It’s not a huge risk to the asset, but can provide a big benefit in terms of satisfied, longer-term residents. Maintenance plan Home warranties are a four-letter word for property managers. They’re a massive headache to deal with, and yet there’s high demand for them among property investors. Because of that, most property managers charge a fee for home warranties, for each they have to file. Imagine if there was a world where home warranties weren’t needed. Here’s the thing: Professional property managers already have the vendor network and the know-how to coordinate maintenance jobs. What they don’t usually have is a product that’s priced to give the investor the experience they want. Let’s say right now an investor is paying $50 a month for a cheap home warranty. The warranty only covers 40% of issues and it creates all these extra people and friction in the middle. For anything moderately significant that goes wrong with a property, PMCs generally must contact the investor for permission to get work done. It’s all a massive hassle and loses time in maintenance requests that leave residents frustrated. What if there was a product that costs, say, $150 to $200 a month but it actually covered everything? Instead of having sudden expenses and emergencies, this maintenance plan smooths out the experience and makes it more predictable for the investor. For PMs, it means taking the initiative on fixes without waiting for approval. Imagine a world where you didn’t have to get owner approvals for 95% of maintenance issues – because they’re already budgeted for and already paid for. For residents, it means better maintenance, and faster. Another Triple Win! Asset performance reports Another piece focuses on property managers as asset managers. Think about any investment app, like Robinhood, Acorns, etc. You can log in to these apps any time, 24/7, and see how your stock and investments are performing. In most investment classes, you can see in real time how your assets are performing. Why shouldn’t property investors have that as well? An IBP™️ can include exactly that: a dashboard or online portal that shows investors regular reports on how their property is doing. They could get updates on the value of their home over time, the home price appreciation, rent price over time, and project rent growth, typically maintenance costs and how they’re doing against that, and more. Resident Benefits Package Another piece to include in your IBP™️ is to highlight the benefits of your resident benefits package to your investors. Explain how features like a filter delivery program protect their assets and reduce HVAC repair costs. Show how a renters insurance program can ensure coverage and protection. Give numbers on how credit reporting incentivizes on-time rental payments and helps ensure financially stable renters. Explain how a movie-in concierge saves both time, headache, and money. Each of the pillars of an RBP is critical to encouraging better resident behavior, increasing renter retention and lease renewal rates, reducing vacancies, and more – all primary goals for a property investor. A note about Rent Advance Programs There’s been due buzz about “Rent Advance” offerings, though many advise caution when approaching this financial product. It works in some ways like cash advance programs, which can satisfy urgent needs, but not be more valuable for anyone long term. The way it works is PMs offer to send a year of rent upfront to the investor in a big chunk, and collect monthly from the resident. The investor typically pays a 5-10% premium on the advance, which can be their entire expected return. So the question becomes, where do they put that cash to get a better return instead? Another thing to think about is who would actually use this product. Investors who don’t have enough cash on hand? How does that benefit anyone in the long run? What happens when there’s a big maintenance bill later? Does this encourage better decisions and practices by the investor? To date, there’s been pretty low adoption of this program, which is another sign it may not be hugely beneficial to everyone involved. But plenty of innovations start that way, evolve, and find traction. One case where it might be a value generator is if an investor is looking to take a cash advance and put it toward a down payment for another house. That would benefit the property manager as well, promising more business, and the PM could offer a lower rate for getting more properties to make the financing more attractive than hard money loans or other alternatives. The jury is still out here, it’s an interesting one to track. How Can Investors and Property Managers Benefit From an Investor Experience Platform™️? Investors and property managers can benefit from an Investor Experience Platform™️ in several ways. They’re also great for residents in the sense they build more stability and quality into the renting process. Here are just some of the benefits of an IBP™️. Enhanced investor attraction An Investor Experience Platform™️ provides incentives and advantages that can attract more investors. Financial guarantees and protections against the risks associated with evictions or late payments can increase stability, while services like a maintenance plan can ensure premium care of their property assets without increasing their workload. By offering attractive perks, property managers can differentiate their offerings and generate greater investor interest. Increased investor retention Both IBP™️s and RBPs help build loyalty with residents and investors. By fostering a strong relationship and demonstrating ongoing value, property managers can build trust and loyalty among investors, and retain them over the long term. IBP™️s help establish the stability, transparency, and asset growth for a real estate investment that an investor hopes to achieve. Improved property performance An Investor Experience Platform™️ can also contribute to improved property performance. For example, by offering discounted property management fees or access to professional services at reduced rates, property managers can help investors optimize their returns and reduce costs. Additionally, incentives such as rent guarantees or eviction protection can mitigate risk for investors and attract more capital to the property. Streamlined communication and transparency A well-designed Investor Experience Platform™️ facilitates effective communication and promotes transparency between property managers and investors. This can involve regular reporting on financial performance, property updates, and the sharing of relevant market insights. Transparent and consistent communication builds trust and confidence among investors, fostering a positive and long-lasting relationship. Competitive advantage A comprehensive Investor Experience Platform™️ can give property managers a competitive edge in the market. When investors have access to exclusive benefits and advantages, they are more likely to choose a property managed by a company that offers a compelling package – and to recommend it to others. Say hello to increased investment inflow and a stronger market position for your PMC. Should You Make an Investor Experience Platform™️ Mandatory? The first thing most property managers ask us when we’re talking about an RBP or an IBP™️ is: Should I make this mandatory for all investors or do I make it a flexible opt-in/opt-out program? Unlike RBPs, where best practices are more proven and established, different PMs are taking different approaches with their IBP™️s. Some have a mandatory level of service set at a flat price. Others may say they’re fine offering a base level of service without these differentiated products, giving investors the choice to simply pay a baseline management fee and opt out of the IBP™️ premium service. Some may offer a baseline to all investors and then give them the chance to opt in for premium IBP™️ services. There are a lot of ways to do it. With the RBP, we’ve found that making it mandatory does not generate nearly as much pushback as people expect – and can be a strong value add overall. Final Thoughts About an Investor Experience Platform™️ The Investor Experience Platform™️ is an innovative way to generate ancillary income and create more value for investors and residents. Similar to Second Nature’s premier Resident Benefits Package, the IBP™️ can deliver high-quality service for investor experience – and help create a triple win for investors, residents, and property management companies. The IBP™️ reinforces the value of a professional property management company for investors and helps differentiate you from the crowd. Stay tuned to learn more about the latest in the IBP™️ space, or learn more about how a resident benefits package can launch a whole new level of value for your PMC.

Calendar icon July 17, 2024

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