How to Help New Tenants
Where's the water shut off in case of an emergency?
Who is the point of contact for our homeowner's association?
What fire exit plan do I use?
These are but a few of the relevant and common questions that a buyer might have when they close on their condominium or apartment, and answers that their Home Owners Association really should supply at the time of the purchase.
Though many rural or suburban realtors do not have to consider walking through a home with their clients, when it is an urban setting, there are many issues that can go overlooked or forgotten. Conducting a buyer's move-in orientation can make the moving in process much easier and more satisfying.
This is why it is so strongly suggested that all realtors, HOAs, and even buyers create a system through which an assigned agent provides a comprehensive “move-in orientation” at a time convenient for the buyer. This is equal parts “welcome” as it is a “how-to” experience. After all, a lot of new owners may not know where to take their trash or recycling, how to get into the building if they've lost or forgotten keys, or who to contact with questions about the HOA or the property in general.
Any owner or association in charge of a building should make a point of integrating residents into the community as smoothly and quickly as possible, and one surefire way of doing this is to conduct a formal orientation with an agent of the association or community.
The Items to Cover
Though the questions posed at the opening of this article are among the most frequently cited, there are many other issues that buyers may not even realize until long after their closing or moving in day. Just consider the specific areas where problems might arise: HOA contact and informational issues, emergency issues, building access and usage issues, insurance issues, and storage concerns.
Because moving in and settling in will so often lead to questions and concerns, a lot of realtors and HOAs draft a “buyer's handbook” that contains answers to the most important questions and issues. Handing this to a buyer at the time of the orientation allows them to rest assured that answers are literally at hand should they fail to take note of them during their orientation.
A sample list of topics covered would include:
- Homeowner's warranty: What does it cover, how to file a claim, and who to contact with questions or claims. A copy should be made available too.
- Maintenance issues: Who to contact regarding appliances, who to contact for additions or repairs, who to contact regarding issues with the building.
- Emergency matters: Where the water is shut off for the property, where the fuse panel is located, where the emergency exits are, and what the fire plans are.
- Access issues: Did the buyer receive all of the keys needed for access to home, building and/or recycling and garbage areas? Did they get storage area keys if available? Who should they call if they have lost their keys?
If you put together a list of answers to these questions in a printed document, it will make an ideal handbook for the move-in orientation, and allow the buyer to have answers whenever needed.
In addition to providing such a courteous welcome, an orientation also ensures that the HOA or community has provided buyers with everything they are legally required to have. It sets the stage to an open door policy with questions and concerns and encourages residents to pose any questions left unanswered during the initial orientation.
Remember that an urban setting may be something entirely new to your buyers and creating a sense of community and welcome does far more than meet any legal obligations. While it informs them fully, it also makes them feel at home right away and creates a much better living environment.