Towne Housing Real Estate Coronavirus Advisory

 

Updated: March 20, 2020 

 

Dear Valued Clients, Residents and Vendors,

 

As updates are being released continuously in the media and by our governmental officials we have created this page in an effort to keep our customers informed. Whether you are a resident, client or vendor, you can reference this page to see the updates we are making internally in response to this ever-changing environment. We take our role and our responsibilities towards each and every one of you seriously and are working to ensure continued service and value to you all. We appreciate all your continued support and patronage and understanding during this time as we work to respond to everyone’s needs as fast as possible.

 

Towne Housing Real Estate has taken action quickly to adapt to the Coronavirus COVID-19. We have preemptively reduced our staff, closed our offices and have equipped our team with technology in response to the changes surrounding this matter. We have taken increased precautions with our maintenance staff and have established our leasing team to go entirely virtual by this upcoming Wednesday, March 25th.

 

It is important to understand that we are at this time fully operational. We have equipped all of our office personnel with additional technology such as newly acquired laptops and cell phones to ensure connectivity and minimal disruption in service during this time. We have always prided ourselves on our paperless office and implementation of industry-leading software. By incorporating this from our inception, we are fully prepared to operate remotely and without disruption for as long as necessary.

 

For questions regarding your tenancy we ask that you communicate to our team through Buildium and your online portal at this time. For our vendors and clients please reference the respective tabs below for the most current updates surrounding this matter.

 

Thank you, 

Jeremy M. Ballsmith,

Managing Partner, Licensed R.E. Broker,

 

Additional Information Here

Updated: April 3rd, 2020

 

 

Dear Valued Clients,

 

Todays update is going to be brief as we have seen limited updates these past few days related COVID-19 and its effect on our operation.

 

Leasing

Operations have been reduced to 2 leasing agents as a result of restrictions outlined by NYSAR. These include open house showings are no longer allowed until further notice. We anticipated this restriction in advance and have videoed our available units and it appears to be more effective that our team remain stationary to their computers and phones to source all incoming calls. We have rented several units with this virtual method. We are continuing to list new units and video new listings as they come to our attention, this turnaround time is 2-3 days so please be patient if your unit is newly available for rent. We are awaiting more concrete direction from both NYSAR and BNAR who recently deemed salespersons essential which would allow for one on one in person showings. Once we have confirmed this as an option we will offer this to qualified parties only. They will be required to qualify in advance to avoid no-shows and wasted time of our reduced leasing team. Their time and focus is being redirected to our backend system which is tracking and logging all interested parties for all units. Our emphasis has been on communications, answering incoming calls and sharing listing data and videos with prospects.

 

Remodel Operations

On Friday, March 27th, New York State deemed construction a non-essential function and multi-person crews were deemed construction by nature and ordered to stop. We are still securing units once vacant, however, we are not quoting unit remodels at this time. Once we can resume operations we will resume out estimating and remodel operations.

 

Maintenance Operations

We have reduced our operations quite a bit as a result of work orders and maintenance requests dropping. Our office has received minimal requests and many tenants have expressed their dissatisfaction with team members entering their homes, despite our efforts to keep our team and residents safe. We notified tenants today that they will be responsible for damages and excessive wear and tear if deemed they neglected the small issue that turned into a larger problem. We also outlined to residents the efforts we have taken to keep everyone safe and healthy during this time and to contact us with any requests.

 

Rent Collections

Our rental collections have been steady and mirror that of a normal month. We do except a decrease in collections based on the number of calls our office has been receiving. Our property managers have been given both detailed direction and phone talking scripts to deal with tenants once we start our collection calls on Monday, April 6th. Updates will be sent owner by owner as to the current situation with each tenant. Please standby for our update to you, we will notify all owners as fast as possible but this process is expected to take the majority of next week to complete. Every call, message and conversation will be logged into our system for future reference. All of our efforts will be tracked in the event you have questions or concerns.

 

Thank you again for your business and trust in our team. We truly appreciate everything during these times. Stay safe and be well.

 

 

Jeremy M. Ballsmith,

Managing Partner, Licensed R.E. Broker,

  • Towne Housing Real Estate
  • Towne Real Estate Holdings
  • Towne Real Estate Development

 

 

 

 

 

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Updated: March 23, 2020 

 

Dear Valued Clients,

 

Rental Collection

As we continue to approach the April 1st Rental due date our team has worked to evaluate options for rental collection incentives. I have personally spoken to many of you who have outlined both your concerns and proposed solutions and for that I thank you for your time. We do understand that not every client will react the same to our proposed incentive program outlined below but do believe that in our effort to safeguard every clients investment, maintain their cashflow and to act in a humane way during this unprecedented time that the outlined is a possible resolution to encourage the continued payment of rent.

 

Tier 1:   For tenants who pay rent less than $600/ month, receive a $100 monthly credit towards rent for 3 months if the remaining rent due is paid on or before the 5th of the month. Waiver of all late and additional pet and storage charges.

 

Tier 2:   For tenants who pay rent more than $600/ month but less than $1,000/ month, receive a $175 monthly credit towards rent for 3 months if the remaining rent due is paid on or before the 5th of the month. Waiver of all late and additional pet and storage charges.

 

Tier 3:   For tenants who pay rent greater than $1,000/ month, receive a $225 monthly credit towards rent for 3 months if the remaining rent due is paid on or before the 5th of the month. Waiver of all late and additional pet and storage charges.

 

We will not be making offers to residents or be incentivizing them to pay rent with reduced rates or credits without prior written approval from an owner. No verbal approvals will be accepted at this time. To approve the above plan, or for questions, please contact Jeremy directly at jballsmith@townehousing.com

 

It is also important that you understand our team is making it clear to all that they must continue to make payments on their rental obligations despite the moratorium on evictions. The changes in evictions is not equal to a waiver of rent, simply a deferment and we are encouraging all tenants NOT to get behind at all during this time. We have a plan in place to issue collection calls on all non-collected rent effective 4-5-2020.

 

For tracking of your rental collections, you may login to Buildium and navigate as follows to view the most up to date Accounts Receivable for your portfolios:

 

Buildium Client Portal -> Reports (Top Right) -> Rental Category -> Delinquent Tenants -> Select Date -> Select Active Tenants and Run Report

 

This will outline to you what tenant owes rent. Note, we will be posting rental income on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th of April. We will not be posting rents on Saturday or Sunday. Note the updated amounts do not show until we enter them into the system so check the A/R closer towards the end of the afternoon to allow our team to process all proper entries.

 

We ask that owners at this time do NOT contact their own tenants. Doing so will cause mass confusion for our team and tenants. If you have concerns, please contact us so that we may assist you and enforce rental collections ourselves.

 

Maintenance

Our maintenance coordinating department and maintenance technicians are still fully operational at this time. For questions, comments or concerns related to the maintenance of your properties please contact Michael Kuntz our Director of Maintenance at mkuntz@townehousing.com or by calling 716-220-6258. Please note, the department is fully operational and they are all quite busy so please allow time for Michael to respond. If you get his voicemail, please leave him a message to return your call.

 

Mortgage Obligations

Today I had an opportunity to speak to 3 banks. Outlined below are my conversations:

 

M&T Bank

Offering a 90-day deferment upon request. First payment on the 90th day will include standard principle and interest due in addition to frontloaded deffered interest payments from the past 3 months. No extension of maturity date for the loan, instead, they will be adding in a 3-month principle payment balloon at the end of the loan.

 

Evans Bank

Offering a 90-day deferment upon request. This is applied to both principle and interest only. Escrow payments will still be due during the 90-day period. The deferred payments will be added onto an extension of your loan at the end of the loan cycle.

 

Five Star Bank

No update for commercial loans at this time, however, they have had conference calls and will update both their website and social media.

Other banks not listed above please contact directly. Your banker or past loan underwriter may be able to assist you at this time.

 

Leasing Activities

The New York State Association of Realtors has outlined in the below article limitations and restrictions placed on Licensed Salespersons and Agents during the Coronavirus epidemic. Outlined below you will see an Executive Order that has forced much of our leasing activities to halt until further notice:

 

https://www.nysar.com/re-activities-soe/

 

Our team has worked diligently to video all vacant units in an attempt to lease virtually through our newly established You Tube Channel, coming soon. This is expected to be done by mid-week as we are currently loading up all videos for interested parties’ and applicant’s access. We are finalizing a few move-ins now from virtual showings and have high hopes for success during this challenging time. We will continue to list and rent units as best we can. Please know that we must first and foremost follow the law and protect the health of not just our team but also interested applicants and your future residents. It is my intention to protect the investments you have placed into our hands and to protect my team’s health and employment. I ask for your patience during this time.

 

Thank You

Jeremy M Ballsmith

NYS R.E. Broker / Owner

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Updated: March 20, 2020 

 

Dear Valued Clients,

 

Since our last update to you Towne Housing Real Estate has continued to adapt to the changes in response to Coronavirus COVID-19. On Thursday we closed our offices to all staff and have fully integrated remote access and connectivity to all team members to ensure our operations are not affected. We have established a resource page in the meantime on our website that will allow our Clients, Rental Owners and Vendors to see all of our latest updates related to our operations and services. This can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

 

https://townehousing.com/towne_housing_covid19_advisory/

 

Our maintenance and remodel contractors are still 100% operational and will continue to operate as we have been deemed an essential service. We will continue to respond to all maintenance related matters for our residents and owners. We will be limiting the work done on all properties and for all tenants until the rental collection period in April. Effective 4/5 any tenant who has not paid rent will not receive maintenance service unless it is deemed an emergency to the health and safety of residents or to the overall condition of the property itself. We will cross check incoming calls with all rental ledgers to control spending on all fronts during this time.

 

Effective Monday, March 23rd, we will be conducting bi-weekly welfare checks on ALL unoccupied units and properties. In considering exposure for our clients, vandalism is of high concern as traffic to and from properties is reduced during this time. Our welfare checks are meant to ensure that units remain safe, secure and utilities are operating properly and that mechanical systems remain untouched and unharmed. As temperatures rise our concern is less about frozen pipes and more about break-ins during this time.

 

Our leasing department had a conference call this morning with management to outline changes in our process and to discuss our new approach to renting out available units. We are working to establish a fully virtual leasing process which includes video tours of all vacant units. This service will be fully operational by Wednesday, March 25th and will be accessible through our newly established YouTube Channel. We are currently looking into blanket incentives that we can offer interested parties if approved by the owner. Stay tuned for suggested incentives during this time, note that we will be looking to offer a single uniform incentive to all in an effort to ensure efficiency and accuracy. Multiple methods will only increase errors and we ask owners to be flexible during this time.

 

While we have all read the updates surrounding rental obligations, we are uncertain to what extent the non-payment of rent will be. We have been monitoring messages from tenants and some have expressed their inability to pay, however, many have expressed they will continue to make their payments. We will have a better understanding of rental income by the 3rd – 5th of April. I will ask that all owners please be patient and remain calm while we allow this matter to play out. We are currently discussing and considering incentives that can be offered to tenants to encourage payment of rent. We will present our recommendations by early next week and are open to suggestions at this time. Please remember that we service hundreds of investors and we are working to find a solution that can work for all, if possible.

 

Mortgages for personal loans and owner occupied homes have been postponed for 90-days for those experiencing financial duress. We have not yet received confirmation that this moratorium extends to commercial loans or non-owner occupied properties. As a result, we will be communicating the need for funds to all owners on Monday, March 23rd. Our accounting team will be doing a full reconciliation of each account which we are responsible for mortgages for and will communicate any financial needs directly to the owners. Please be proactive in communicating with our team if you have a personal plan of action you wish to enforce during these next 90 days.

 

Thank you to all for your continued patience during this time. Please contact us with any questions, comments or concerns so that we may better assist you as this situation develops.

 

Thank You,

 

Jeremy M Ballsmith

NYS R.E. Broker / Owner

 

Update: 3/27/2020

 

Towne Housing Real Estate is aware of the ongoing challenges COVID-19 is putting onto our current residents. We have had many of you reach out due to layoffs, shortage of hours and unemployment and are working to develop solutions for all. We certainly understand as we too have had to close our office and our office staff are currently working from home to follow the regulations put in place by NYS.

 

Most of you are aware of the 90 day moratorium put in place by our Governor regarding evictions.

 

We want to make this clear that this is a moratorium on evictions which prevents a landlord from evicting tenants due to non-payment of rent – this means they are postponing evictions. This is not a waiver of rent for 90 days and does not mean you are entirely dissolved of your obligation to pay rent during this period of time. Late fees will be waived for all during this 90 day period. These rental charges will come due upon the closure of the 90 day eviction ban meaning your balance due will be 4x a single months rental rate come July 1st, 2020 (April + May + June + July). We strongly advise that you make your best efforts to pay your rent as much as possible to reduce the amount due come July 1st, 2020. In 90 days if rent is not collected you could be in jeopardy  of facing eviction proceedings if you do not keep up to date with your payments. Partial payments of any amount are accepted always.

 

To respond to COVID-19 Towne Housing Real Estate is working directly with all rental property owners to offer residents incentives during this time in an effort to lessen the effects financially on those who are out of work. Towne Housing Real Estate will be working to offer incentives to those who can provide us in writing from your employer that you have been laid off or have lack of income due to COVID-19, proof of acceptance for unemployment will also be an approved form of proof while we identify those who truly need assistance during this epidemic. If and when we are approved to present these incentives we will do so personally through a direct call to each tenant, there is no guarantee an owner will approve our proposed plan and it is 100% their decision. Please do not contact us in advance asking for incentives as these are only offered if approved by the property owner.

 

In regards to our maintenance services: Effective 4/6/2020 we will be responding to maintenance requests for those who have paid their rent. For those who have not we will only be responding to emergencies that may affect your health, safety , well-being and operations of the property (heat, water, gas leaks). Note this is in an effort to ensure our owners can continue to pay their obligations as property owners. All maintenance calls will be answered as fast as possible and in the event a tenant has not paid rent and is not eligible for service your task will still be placed into our system for future resolution.

 

We will be charging tenants a no-show fee for anyone who does not cancel their maintenance appointment at least 24 hours in advance. We are doing all that we can to respond to everyone’s needs by scheduling for a day and time that works best for you, should you no-show the appointment or attempt to cancel the morning of or only minutes before the appointment you will be charged a $40 fee. PLEASE DO NOT keep appointments if you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 such as dry cough, fever, breathing issues, coughing blood etc. Everyone’s health and safety are our top concern and we all must communicate and work together as a team to ensure we are abiding the best that we can to the guidelines set by our officials.

 

For further details please reach out to our Property Management Department by calling 716-264-4135 and selecting the property telephone prompts. You may also contact our team by messaging or texting us through the Buildium online tenant portal.

Thank You

~ Towne Housing Real Estate

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Updated: March 16th, 2020

 

Dear Valued Residents,

 

Towne Housing Real Estate’s office is still currently closed to the public due to COVID-19. However, we are still working diligently to ensure all work orders are completed in a timely fashion. At this time we do not foresee a complete and total shutdown of our operations, however, please be patient as we are taking extra precautions to ensure everyone’s safety and as a result may experience times of being short staffed.

 

Our maintenance technicians will be asked to take precautionary measures due to the close contact they are exposed to while entering your homes. We ask that you do the same to protect yourselves, your families and our staff during this time.

 

If you or your family are experiencing symptoms related to this virus and you have a scheduled service appointment with our technicians it is mandatory that you notify us and we can reschedule ASAP.  

 

Symptoms include: Fever, Soar Throat, Coughing and Shortness of Breath.

 

We understand that this virus is causing disruptions not only to our service to you but also to your own personal affairs. Towne Housing Real Estate and its clients are also confronting challenges on how to adapt to ever changing circumstances surrounding this epidemic. The financial and contractual obligations of the owner to pay for their mortgage, taxes, and insurance have not stopped or lessened. As a result, you should continue to honor the terms of your lease, which includes making all of your required lease payments. To the extent you do not have sufficient savings to cover your upcoming rent payments, we encourage you to apply for various federal, state, and local programs that are being offered that may serve to cushion the financial blow brought about by the virus.

 

As we continue to navigate the challenges please contact us with questions, comments or concerns that you may have related to your tenancy. Please be patient as we work to respond to all in the fastest manner possible.

 

Continued updates will be shared as the situation develops. Please be safe and know that we appreciate your patronage and wish you all well during this precarious time.

 

Thank you

~Towne Housing Real Estate

Updated: March 27th, 2020

 

Dear Valued Vendors,

 

We are looking to provide as much clarity as possible as we continue to address and adapt to the various challenges presented to us by the Coronavirus COVID-19. Let me first say that Towne Housing Real Estate truly values all of our vendors, their teams, hard work and our partnership companies that make our great service possible. Without you we would not have grown to the size that we are and would not be the service company of choice for so many local real estate investors.

 

Our accounting team is now fully remote and working from home. They are equipped to work through the challenges that have been presented to us and those which may not yet have been identified. We will continue to review and process vendor payments as fast as possible to ensure cashflow for our vendors and partner companies during this challenging time. It is important to understand that the 90-day moratorium on evictions, which has followed mass layoffs and termination of employment will greatly impact our rental collections and abilities to pay our vendor obligations. We will work with each vendor privately and directly to provide payment as quickly as possible. We are also working with our clients to outline what obligations they are currently responsible for in the hopes for owner contributions to fund payment of these open invoices.

 

For questions please contact Jeremy Ballsmith directly by emailing your request AND a full Accounts Receivable aging report to jballsmith@townehousing.com and please CC in dcook@townehousing.com. Your Accounts receivable report should include invoice #, total amount due and property address for easy sorting and payment processing. We will do all that we can to issue payments quickly for all.

 

Thank you for your patience during this precarious time.