November 17, 2023

From House Hacking to Landscape Lighting: Create A Safe Ambience For Your MTR Guests

In the heart of Chicago, Illinois, Jillyan MacMorris stands out as a trailblazer in the real estate landscape. Embracing the innovative approach of monthly furnished house hacking, she has crafted a unique blend of real estate strategies that dovetail perfectly with her W2 role. As the Chief Improvement Officer at Night Light, Inc., Jillyan champions the cause of enhancing home security through meticulously designed lighting solutions. Her dual expertise offers invaluable insights, shedding light on the delicate balance between property aesthetics and safety.

Jillyan's House Hacking Journey

At its core, house hacking entails living in one of the multiple units of an investment property while renting out the others. It's a strategy that allows investors to use a low downpayment and rental income to offset their living expenses. Jillyan's approach to house hacking was both novel and tailored to her specific situation.

She began her house-hacking adventure with a single-family residence. Recognizing the property's potential, she decided to rent out individual rooms, converting her home into a multi-rental unit. This strategy not only provided her with a consistent source of income but also provided her with firsthand experience in managing tenants and understanding their needs.

Jillyan's house hacking was not only for financial gain; it was also a strategic move to better understand the market. She was in a unique position to gauge the needs and preferences of her tenants because she lived in the same property she rented out. This practical experience gave her invaluable insights into tenant preferences, maintenance needs, and the overall dynamics of the rental market.

Furthermore, her house hacking strategy was built on a strong sense of security. Recognizing the importance of safety, especially as a young female in the industry, she invested in improving her property's security features. Jillyan ensured that her property was both inviting and secure by installing strategic lighting to ensure visibility and implementing deterrent measures.

Key Takeaways from Jillyan's House Hacking Experience

Flexibility and Adaptability: Jillyan's decision to rent out individual rooms in a single-family home showcases the importance of being adaptable. Instead of sticking to traditional rental models, she identified a niche and capitalized on it.

Hands-on Experience: Living in the same property she rented out gave Jillyan a unique perspective. She was not just a landlord; she was also a neighbor. This proximity allowed her to address issues promptly and understand the day-to-day challenges and joys of property management.

Security as a Priority: Jillyan's emphasis on security, from lighting to visibility, underscores the importance of ensuring safety in rental properties. It not only adds value to the property but also instills confidence in potential tenants.

The Power of Tenant Screening: KeyCheck's Role

Tenant screening is a cornerstone of successful property management, and for Jillyan, it has been a game-changer in her real estate journey. One of the standout tools in her arsenal is KeyCheck, a service that has profoundly transformed her tenant selection process. KeyCheck isn't just any background check service; it delves deep, offering a comprehensive look into a potential tenant's history.

For Jillyan, this meant access to crucial information that could make or break a rental agreement. From criminal records to rental histories, KeyCheck's detailed reports provided a clear picture of who she was considering as a tenant. This level of detail was invaluable, especially given her unique rental model of furnished monthly house hacking. With tenants potentially staying for shorter durations than traditional leases, ensuring each one was reliable became paramount.

The benefits of using KeyCheck extend beyond just peace of mind. By ensuring she rented only to dependable and trustworthy individuals, Jillyan minimized potential disputes and conflicts. This not only led to smoother tenant-landlord relationships but also played a pivotal role in maintaining the safety and integrity of her properties. After all, a well-vetted tenant is less likely to cause damage or disruption.

Furthermore, in the realm of mid-term rentals, where turnover can be higher and the stakes are different from long-term leases, having a robust screening process is even more critical. It's not just about ensuring timely rent payments but also about fostering a community within the property where all tenants feel secure and respected.

In essence, KeyCheck provided Jillyan with a safety net, allowing her to navigate the complexities of the rental world with confidence.

The Art and Science of Property Maintenance

Property maintenance extends beyond simply repairing what is broken. Jillyan's job is to ensure that every corner of her property echoes with the warmth and comfort of a home, especially for her tenants. She emphasizes the importance of regular property inspections based on her own experiences. These aren't cursory glances but rather in-depth investigations designed to uncover potential problems before they escalate.

Jillyan's plan is based on foresight. She avoids the high costs of extensive repairs by detecting problems early. However, the advantages are not only monetary. Tenants will experience fewer disruptions as a result of this proactive approach. They don't have to deal with the inconvenience of unexpected breakdowns or lengthy repair work. Instead, they get to enjoy a smooth stay in which everything works as it should.

Furthermore, Jillyan's approach demonstrates her dedication to her tenants. She's sending a clear message by making sure everything is in working order: their comfort and well-being come first. It's a philosophy that has served her well, as it has fostered trust and long-term relationships with those who choose to make her properties their temporary homes.

Lighting: More Than Just Aesthetics

Lighting is frequently overlooked in the realms of property management and design. However, for Jillyan, it is more than just illuminating spaces; it is also about crafting experiences and ensuring safety. Her perspective on lighting is unconventional, viewing it as a powerful tool that serves two functions: enhancing the property's aesthetic allure and fortifying its security.

Jillyan emphasized the transformative power of outdoor lighting by drawing on her personal experience. She described how she strategically used lighting in her own home to both increase visibility and deter potential intruders. She not only created a visually appealing ambiance but also added an extra layer of security by illuminating her front yard, driveway, and the space between her house and garage. Such measures deter potential threats like intruders because they are more likely to target homes that are in the dark.

But how does one achieve this delicate balance of beauty and safety? While solar lighting is an environmentally friendly option, its efficacy varies depending on the region and amount of sunlight received. Hiring professionals may be the best option for those looking for a more robust solution. They bring expertise, ensuring that the lighting is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The Bistro Lighting Trend: Setting the Mood Right

With its gentle glow and atmospheric charm, bistro lighting has become a popular addition to many outdoor spaces. These lights, reminiscent of cozy Italian restaurants, cast a sultry ambiance that invites evening gatherings and intimate conversations. However, as with any design element, perfecting its installation and effect is both an art and a science. One of the most important considerations she emphasizes is the gauge. The gauge can change depending on the span and location of the lights. For example, in areas with rafters or shorter spans, a thinner wire with bulbs spaced about 12 inches apart can be used. For longer distances or open areas, a thicker gauge with bulbs spaced about 24 inches apart is preferable. This prevents the lights from sagging excessively under their weight, preserving the desired aesthetic. Jillyan also emphasizes the importance of mounting. The height at which the lights are hung can affect their susceptibility to breakage, particularly in windy conditions. High winds, typical patio furniture movements, and even pivoting outdoor appliances can cause the lights to swing, collide, and break. These risks can be reduced by properly mounting, ensuring tautness, and considering surrounding elements. While solar lights are environmentally friendly, they do present their own set of challenges. Jillyan notes that they frequently fall short in areas with limited sunlight. Solar lights may not be the best option in places like Chicago, where sunlight can be scarce during the winter months. Furthermore, the durability of solar lights is frequently jeopardized. They are prone to falling, being kicked, or succumbing to the elements, especially if they are not made of durable materials. Jillyan's experience extends even to Texas, where she has observed inconsistencies in solar lights, such as flickering or insufficient illumination.

Personal Stories: Lighting Up Success

Jillyan's personal residence in unincorporated Chicago, which lacked the typical street lamps, presented a unique challenge. Instead of viewing this as a limitation, Jillyan saw it as an opportunity to improve both the security and the beauty of her property.

She started by carefully positioning a downlight in a mature tree in her front yard. This not only lit up the area, but it also cast a soft glow over her front parking spot, allowing her and her neighbors to see out onto the street. Recognizing the dangers of a dark driveway next to her front door, she installed a light on the peak of her house that shined down on the driveway, removing what she called an "abyss of blackness."

Jillyan, however, did not stop there. She increased the security of her property by installing a coach light in front of her detached garage. She made this choice because she wanted to light up the dim area between her house and the garage, which she had to previously scurry through. She also added another gentle downlight from her house's eave onto her patio, providing just the right amount of brightness for evening relaxation.

An ornamental tree in the backyard is adorned with an accent light, ensuring that every corner of her property is well-lit. Jillyan's approach to lighting is more than just functional. She emphasizes aesthetic appeal to ensure that her home is secure while also exuding a warm and welcoming ambiance.

The Big Picture: Investing in Lighting

Strategic lighting use can be a game changer in property valuation. Well-lit properties immediately captivate potential buyers and renters. The allure isn't just about the visual appeal; it's also about the message that the property sends. A well-lit home or rental property conveys a strong sense of safety and security, which is important to many people when deciding where to live.

Furthermore, the influence of lighting is not limited to individual properties. There is a knock-on effect in neighborhoods. A single well-lit and well-maintained property can inspire neighbors to improve the exteriors of their own homes. The cumulative effect of neighborhood beautification can increase the value of the entire community. The entire block or neighborhood becomes more desirable as properties begin to radiate warmth, safety, and appeal. This isn't just Jillyan's opinion; other experts in the field have expressed similar sentiments. They've discovered that when properties are thoughtfully illuminated, it signals an investment in the community, making it more appealing to potential investors, buyers, and renters.

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Author : FF Team