VOLUME VIINote from the EditorI always find out fun facts while assigning, fact-checking and editing these magazines. One of the most bizarre facts I learned in this issue came from “Realtors, Avoid These Questions on Rental Applications”: More than a century ago, it was illegal for an unmarried couple to live together. From 1868 all the way to 2016, that was frowned upon. And it took a Senate bill signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott to do away with it—only a few years ago. (Texas does not have this rule.)

While asking someone “Are you married?” may seem like a harmless conversation starter, depending on how the listener feels about the motive for that question, there can be ramifications for it. Getting familiar with state laws and the Fair Housing Act will save Realtors a lot of grief. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. I hope this post helps Realtors and property owners learn the basics and the lesser-knowns of what questions to dodge.

Then there’s “Hit or Miss: Are Real Estate Professionals Getting In Their Own Way?,” a post that came about because I kept seeing Realtor (and property manager) websites and contact information that didn’t match. The phone numbers were disconnected. They didn’t work for the companies anymore. The websites had 404 error messages. There was too much reliance on a social media page, even when their main client base may not be on that social media platform. Realtors may need to look at their online search through a renter’s eyes instead of their own. Doing it this way could help with visibility and seeing how to expand their brands.

Additionally, whether you’re in your early days of signing up applicants or you’re a Realtor guru, being prepared ahead of time for rocky moments can make you that much better at finding the right people for the right property. Every application isn’t going to be perfect.

But if Realtors fix the red flags in “Realtor Troubleshooting: Pitfalls to Look Out For” and follow the protocol in “How a Letter of Explanation Can Save a Troubled Tenant Application,” the landlord will more than likely appreciate the honesty. Does that mean that the tenant will be chosen? Maybe yes, maybe no. But letting the landlord(s) know what they’re in for is never a bad idea. (RentSURETY certainly helps too.)

While some Realtors scramble to get the MLS listing opened and closed as fast as possible, others take their time to make sure the deal is done. For reasons mentioned in “When to Change the Rental Listing Status on the MLS,” the latter is highly recommended. You just never know when that last-minute query will be the best applicant or the first person to reach out is the least desirable choice. Has this ever happened to you?

One big challenge for new renters is finding homes not just for themselves but for their pets too. Pet-friendly homes can fall into a gray area. This is why “The Price for Pets” comes in handy for landlords and Realtors. And as Lourdes Codina said in this issue’s “Conversation In Real Estate,” taking care of the lawn is going to be a big deal—sprinklers and all. For pet owners, the lawn matters for a different reason. Check out “Tips and Tricks for a Pest-Free, Pet-Friendly Garden” to find out why.

Referring back to questions not to ask prospective tenants, relationship queries can be touchy. And asking a tenant’s age and ability to move around with a disability is even touchier. For Realtors and landlords who tend to work with retirees, it is absolutely imperative that you check out “A Guide to Renting to Aging Tenants” and “ADA-Friendly Homes: What Landlords Need to Know.” Some of these tips may help make your home more valuable to investors and younger renters who want to live in the unit for the long haul, or have senior or disabled relatives who visit often.

As with every issue, we end it with an interior design or upgrade tip to make a rental more eye-catching. Our tip in this volume is “Maximizing Storage In a Small Space.” This is a chance to make even smaller homes or multi-units creatively larger. If done well, this may work wonders for catching prospective renters’ attention. Is there another topic you’d like us to talk about? Contact me at shamontiel.vaughn@go4rent.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Shamontiel L. Vaughn, Editor-In-Chief
About Shamontiel:Shamontiel L. Vaughn has been in the publishing industry for 17 years as a newspaper reporter, a web editor, social media specialist and a print editor. Her areas of expertise include K-12 and adult education textbooks; local and nationwide news; and health news. She's also completed approximately 235 interviews in a variety of areas, including business management; entertainment; internet technology; law (entertainment, business and real estate); nursing; and travel. Some of her bylines can be found in the Chicago Defender, Chicago Tribune and CBS Chicago.

The unapologetic dog lover also owned two prior dogs (German Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix) before becoming a two-year dog walker (510 walks with 89 different dogs) and adopting a third dog of her own on Juneteenth 2021: a Hound mix named Junee. When she's not writing, editing or playing with her dog, she's a current condo owner, former condo board president and treasurer, and a five-year officer for a community Toastmasters club.