Client Spotlight – ePropertyCare
Learn about how ePropertyCare shares in our philosophy of avoiding costly mistakes by being proactive. While Huntington Tax Partners is proactive for all of your tax needs, ePropertyCare is proactive for all of your home and rental properties’ needs.
ePropertyCare offers a variety of services for helping busy homeowners and landlords execute property maintenance and repairs, as well as a unique system of smart sensors and software to enable you to protect your home remotely over a cellular connection. Think of this as a cell phone for your home that will inform you when something is wrong and allow you to take quick action. This system is part of a broader service for executing repairs, inspections, renovations and preventative maintenance with a curated network of trades and contractors.
We met with Co-Founder and CEO, Charles Hadsell, to learn more about what lead him to start the companies. Some of his answers may surprise you.
1) Why did you start ePropertyCare?
ePropertyCare originated as eLandlord and was conceived out of necessity. I was an amateur landlord with a full-time job and family, and had built up a portfolio of several rental properties over the years. I found that as I got busier with work, travel, and family, property maintenance and responsiveness to tenants suffered. This led to deferred maintenance on my properties and unhappy tenants, which led to more problems. I knew something had to change to turn around this downward spiral.
I tried using a property management company, but found the costs and fees wiped out my rental cash flow. For my situation I only needed help during certain stages of the rental process, and even that varied based on my availability. I started to use my father Gary (co-founder of company) to take care of rental tasks for me, and it hit me – I wish I had someone like my father to be a “general contractor” that can coordinate vendors and take care of certain use-cases when I’m busy or not inclined to do it myself. I didn’t care who was chosen for the job as long as they were easy to schedule, showed up on-time, did excellent work, and were fairly priced. I was more than willing to pay for the help I needed in coordinating the repairs, but did not want to pay for overhead or services I did NOT need.
I conducted a lot of research and found that many companies offered services to help find a handyman or plumber, but no one offered a service that helped a landlord take a longer-term view of a property with preventative maintenance, connected home devices, and inspections to minimize the risk of emergency repairs. I decided to start eLandlord to fill this gap for the millions of DIY landlords that need help but don’t want to wipe out their rental cash flow. That was the birth of eLandlord.
As we got into our BETA test for eLandlord we found interest from homeowners, HOA’s and commercial applications, so decided to broaden the name to ePropertyCare (and our focus) because the same issues for landlords applies to busy homeowners, HOA’s, commercial real estate investors and more.
2) The value of preventative maintenance
There is a saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is very true for property maintenance where small issues can lead to big problems over time. I read a statistic that emergency repairs can cost 30x the cost of preventative maintenance in some situations. This is a staggering difference, but speaks to why people should be doing seasonal and preventative maintenance. However, many typically don’t because it is not top-of-mind or they are busy.
Here is an example: How often do you change the air filter in your HVAC system or get your boiler serviced? If you haven’t done this in more than a year then your system is at-risk of failing at the worst possible time – during the heatwave we recently had, or in the middle of a winter storm when it needs to stay working for the safety of your family. Even worse, these are the times that 1) fixes are most expensive because they are emergency, and 2) availability is low so you may have to wait several days or weeks to get service.
We use a home assessment to build a seasonal maintenance plan that will give homeowners timely reminders, recommendations AND options for executing preventative items. We want to make it very easy for people to maintain their homes so they minimize the chances of a system failure at the worst possible time.
We can also install a system of sensors that can inform a homeowner when a water leak is happening or when the temperature is getting too low inside (and pipes are at-risk of freezing). This is another form of preventative maintenance and allows people to get ahead of potential issues before major damage is caused.
3) Why trust is important in finding contractors?
How often do you interact with the plumber or handyman that you know? Chances are only when something breaks, which can be every 1-2 years (or sometimes longer). Unless you do a lot of repeat business, it is unlikely that you are a big portion of their overall business. Consequently, when they are busy you’ll be relatively low on their priority list. This is the problem we see with HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List – there is no long-term relationship and you’ll likely not be a big contributor of revenue to a given contractor. You’re a “one-off” transaction.
We feel it is important to use trusted contractors in our platform that we have a vested relationship with and steer a lot of business to. By giving them a lot of business, we become and big customer and they are motivated to perform well for our customers or they risk being kicked out of our platform. This is one of the benefits of membership to our platform – you become part of a club that has purchasing power. This drives great pricing and strong accountability.
How Huntington Tax Partners helped:
Since my initial meeting with Huntington Tax Partners a few months ago, they have helped and provided guidance for me with both my personal and business tax situation. There were items on my past tax returns that I suspected were not being treated properly. After HTP had a chance to review these past years returns, they confirmed that in fact there were several items that were not calculated or reported properly. We were able to correct the various errors relating to depreciation calculations, passive loss carryforwards, rental property cost basis, and a few other adjustments which resulted in refunds owed to me by the IRS and MA DOR for multiple years. In addition to correcting the past returns, I am much more knowledgeable and more aware of the critical information needed for rental properties as it relates to my tax return. This will help make future tax filings easier by compiling the necessary documents throughout the year as certain events occur.
With the start of any new company, there are numerous tasks that need to be completed and it would be easy to overlook certain tasks if you are trying to tackle all the items yourself. HTP was able to help and advise on sales tax questions and compliance, tax return compliance, and which business structure would be most beneficial for what we want to accomplish as a company. In addition, they were able to help with the initial set up of the chart of accounts to maintain an accurate set of books to track the income and expenses properly.
Given the number of landlords self-preparing their own tax returns, I expect similar errors are being reported, and HTP is able to uncover the errors, correct them, and provide you with the knowledge needed for future years. I look forward to continuing the relationship with HTP and extending this partnership to my network of landlords and homeowners.
To learn more about ePropertycare, check out their website at https://www.epropertycare.com/