Although not a true capital expenditure; computer hardware, software and peripherals do not last forever. Deciding when is the right time to replace them or upgrade is always a difficult decision. Will upgrading increase productivity? A new system can affect productivity in positive ways. In today's business environment many users have more applications open at one time and a new system with increased speed will have a positive effect on managing the time spent moving between applications. One of the obvious reasons to upgrade is your operating system is probably running Windows XP which was released to the market in 2001 and support for this system is no longer available. So not upgrading isn't even an option, it's a cost of doing business today. Advances in computers and software dictate that every few years you are going to need to make some upgrades. If you are eight years behind, this becomes a more formidable task and a larger learning curve. It's far better to continually upgrade your systems. The expense will be the same in the long run, but the result is that you will be more productive and ease into incremental training. These are all things to consider when determining a budget for your reserve account.
There are several capital improvements that can increase the value of your MHC. Filling vacant manufactured home sites is one. A vacant home site is costing you money to keep the lawn mown, the weeds removed and lot to be cleaned, not to mention the loss of revenue. It also can cause your residents angst having an unsightly empty lot next door. Putting together a strategic plan for filling your vacancies is proactive and critical. Be creative. For example, consider looking at a vacant single wide site that may be able to fit a double wide home by setting the home back and installing a front load driveway. Another is submetering water, sewer and passing through the garbage service expense. By installing water meters at each manufactured home and billing the resident's back for water, sewer and passing through the garbage you are in effect increasing your bottom line. This is one of the most equitable ways to pass on expenses to the residents as they only pay for what they use. Commonwealth can discuss with you how to install submeters with zero investment from you, the owner. Other ideas to add value is to increase curb appeal in your community and install new and attractive signs at the entrances. Maintain adequate energy efficient lighting to save on your electric bills while also promoting safety in the community. If you have vacant land, consider developing more MH sites, RV storage or storage units. All of these are things to consider when you're reinvesting into your community.
Article provided by Tom Petitt, Vice President for Commonwealth. Tom joined Commonwealth Real Estate Services in July, 2012 and will oversee the Oregon Property Management Division and work closely with all other aspects of our company helping us further develop and grow our existing business as well as managing a portfolio of properties. Tom attended Western Oregon State University where he majored in Business and Marketing, he has over 15 years' experience in the manufactured housing industry working in property management, retail sales management, operations, and property development. Tom is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Oregon. In his spare time Tom enjoys spending time with his family, coaching youth sports in his local community, and volunteering for special events and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Also Tom is actively involved in multiple committees at Commonwealth Real Estate Services. Learn more about Tom and the rest of the Commonwealth team here!