Watts Happenings News and Blog
Today, the BBJ unveiled their top 25 of Birmingham Executives of Influence, a special feature highlighting key leaders in a range of Birmingham industries who are shaping both their business and the Magic City's economy. Low and behold, they selected Chip as one those 25 people. We just want to thank Chip for his hard work, whether it's with IREM, NAR, BAR, the state of Alabama, or even just little ol' Watts Realty Company. When Birmingham succeeds, we all succeed. Thanks Chip!
Link to Article
The Birmingham Business Journal just released their January Executive Profile featuring Watts Realty's very own Chip Watts. He talks about how Watts Realty helped shape the city of Birmingham everyone knows of today and how we hope to help shape it's future.
Read the article here... http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/news/2017/01/12/executive-profile-big-deals-are-in-this-leaders.html It is a pay site, so if you would like a copy to read, just email Michael and he'll make sure to get you one.
I was sifting through some property management news recently when I came across yet another report of an unsuspecting family that had found a home on Craigslist.com, paid money to someone out of country and moved all their personal belongings into the property, only to find out just days later that they were scammed out of their money and ultimately out of a place to live.
The report, like many of its kind, read a little something like this:
The family was desperate to move out of their previous rental home situation. They began the process of searching online, probably a Google search, to find a new place to live. After about an hour or more of searching online listings they come across one that looks too good to pass up. A nice home in an area they’re already familiar with, and the rent, well it is listed hundreds of dollars lower than other comparable homes in the same area.
The listing says the owner just wants someone to take care of the property for a year or two while they work out of the country, and the owner wants to rent it as fast as possible. That’s why the listed rental rate is so low. Sounds legit. Once they contacted the person on the listing, they were instructed to wire the deposit and first month’s rent to some “lawyer” out of state and all communications are done via text or email. No keys are transferred, and is usually communicated through email that the new tenants can just change the locks after they move in.
Once in the unit, it only took a couple of days before the real property manager came knocking on the door to find out who moved into his property. Police are usually involved and it never ends well for the people who thought they had legally rented the home.
This is a horrible thing to go through, and quite frankly is no longer the exception but the norm when it comes to rental properties listed with Craigslist.com. It not only effects the poor souls that got scammed, but it also affects the property manager and their clients. It is something that every property manager has to deal with in this new online world, including yours truly.
Once we decided to go fully online with our rental listings, we saw in increase in phone calls to our office asking about properties listed on Craigslist.com that matched one of our listings on other reputable listing sites such as Zillow.com. The only differences between the two listings is the rental rate and the contact information. If it weren’t for the due diligence of these individuals, we would probably have never even known our listings were being copied and posted to Craigslist. These rate at which these fraudulent listings are being listed don't seem to be slowing down and is the current reality of online rental listings. And after so many of these reported scams, I decided to make some changes to all of our online rental listings across the board.
Because photos give legitimacy to online listings, one of the major changes we made was making sure that all photos were watermarked with our brand and company name. But not just some small logo in the corner of the page; I’ve found through trial and error that placement and size of watermarks matter when scammers are pulling your photos from the World Wide Web. Photos can be cropped and photo-shopped, so the idea is to make it as difficult as possible and time consuming to copy our listings. By placing a logo grid across the entire photo, we’ve now made it harder than just pulling the photo and placing in the fraudulent. Because the grid cannot be cropped out and is very difficult to alter even with computer software, every person who sees the photo can now see our branded logo anywhere in the picture. This in-turn leads them to our contact information and hopefully deters anyone from contacting the fraudulent person on Craigslist.
Because scammers tend to just copy and past descriptions from our original listings with out putting in the time to rewrite it, we have now started placing copyright information in the description area of all our online listings. This provides anyone who may have found the fraudulent listing with conflicting contact information with the hopes that the potential renter will recognize the difference and do their due diligence to confirm the listing with our office.
These are just a couple of the things we have done at Watts Realty to make sure no one gets scammed here by a fraudulent Craigslist listing. But just in-case, here are some tips to help avoid rental scams on Craigslist.com:
- Do your due diligence when researching a rental property. Google search the exact address to find any other information on the property. If it’s truly legitimate, more than likely you'll find the correct information on sites like Zillow.com or your local state’s multiple listing service (MLS). If you come across multiple listings with different rental rates and contact information. Follow up and find out why the information is different. More than likely the Craigslist information is incorrect and possibly a scam.
- Never wire money.
- Meet the owner or manager in person. Scammers usually prefer to communicate via text or email.
- Request proof of ownership or management.
- If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often list rentals for a low price to lure victims.
If you take these things into consideration when searching for a rental property online, the chances of you getting scammed is very low.
Yesterday the Birmingham Business Journal ran another article by Brent Goodwin about affordable living in downtown Birmingham with all the new residential apartment construction. It is subscriber content, so I can't give you too much, but here is a little taste of the important stuff:
"Flats on 4th will fill the middle market gap by providing affordable apartment rental rates in the Parkside District," said Chip Watts, president of Watts Realty.
Thousands of new apartment units have opened or are being developed in the last few years primarily in Birmingham's Parkside, Southside, and Lakeview areas. Developments that have opened are filling up, and developers have said people of all ages - not just young professionals - are renting them.
But the majority of these apartments are high-end Class A units, which developers said is what the market and construction costs have called for. That means there's a growing number of potential renters that want to live downtown but can't afford the high rents and fall into "Birmingham's housing gap," which was outlined in a recent Cover Story.
But this won't be the case with Flats on 4th.
If you subscribe to the BBJ, you can find the entire article right here.
Local real estate experts are hopeful that a new Topgolf location in downtown Birmingham could mean big things for the future of the city.
"Topgolf is an entertainment venue many of our clients have experienced in other metros and have expressed as a 'wish-list' item when discussing opportunities for properties in Birmingham," said Chip Watts of Watts Realty. "It will be a great anchor for the northern side of the BJCC property. With Uptown to the south and Topgolf to the north, it makes perfect sense to place the proposed BJCC stadium in between the two."
For more on this development check out the links below...
From critical legislative issues and tax reform, such as the Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 like-kind exchanges, to the combining of multiple municipal business licenses into single county-wide licenses for a significant reduction in fees, RPAC allows CCIMs to be proactive in educating lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels.
Visit the link for more info
As you can see in the photos, the project is coming along nicely. The steel pedestals are in place and the elevator shaft is finished.
This little video will help you understand how to utilize our new Rently self-showing lockboxes.
- Chip Watts Picked As One of Top 25 Excutives of Influence by Birmingham Business Journal
- 44th Annual Commercial Real Estate Awards
- BBJ's Executive Profile: Big deals are in this leader's blood
- Rental Properties and Craigslist Scams
- Birmingham Business Journal Highlights Flats on 4th Project
- Topgolf Coming to Birmingham!
- Chip Inducted Into National Association of REALTORS RPAC Hall of Fame
- Flats on 4th Apartment Construction Update
- How to Use Our New Rently Lockboxes to View a Property
- David on FOX6 News