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Guardian Property Services: Peace of Mind While You’re Away from LBI

Apr 16, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

It was requests after Superstorm Sandy that planted the seed for Ron Fella’s Guardian Property Services, and recent storms further exposed the need for home watch and property management in a seasonal shore resort. As a Realtor for more than 25 years, a business owner, year-round resident and involved fire company member, Fella was poised to do this job in any season.

Guardian Property Services, or GPS for short, pledges that it provides “a commitment of safe, trusted and secure home watching.”

Guardian Property Services was launched in August 2017. Fella owns the fully licensed and insured business, doing what he was in demand to do anyway as a trusted community member.

“Peace of mind when you’re away” is the motto that applies for property owners gone for weeks or for the entire winter.

Home watch services include weekly, bimonthly or monthly inspections; contractor access and oversight services; alarm response; storm preparedness and post-storm inspections. The checks can cover interior, exterior, docks, boats, vehicles, landscape, fencing, pools and outbuildings.

GPS can also help with arrival/departure preparations and security alarm response. He can also provide handyman services.

“I live in North Beach, so I have 24-hour availability year ’round,” Fella noted.

The advantages of hiring a home watch company are many, especially given the value of Long Beach Island homes and the fact that many owners are away for extended periods.

“The properties down here are substantial investments, so the people are much more at ease when they contract for service,” Fella said. “If they’re snowbirds, as we call them, and they’re not coming here for four or five months, that’s a long time to have a house at the beach sitting there with nobody taking care of it.”

When a property is unattended, anything can happen, from weather damage to vandalism to rodent infestation. Clients can rest easier knowing their property is covered, and they won’t come home to unpleasant surprises.

“An inexpensive check once a week or every other week, or even monthly, can save people bigger money. We can catch something before it gets bad,” Fella remarked.

Clients get the business owner when they hire Guardian Property Services. “When they commit to us, we commit right back. If I have to run out in the middle of the night, I run out in the middle of the night,” said Fella, who is insured and bonded.

The former owner of Fella’s Pizza, who was in the family business since 1970, Ron Fella is well known in the community. Later, as an associate with Island Realty, he was already in ongoing contact with many homebuyers. His interest in a property watch business later evolved.

“It started with my love for the real estate business,” said Fella, whose background in school was in interior design and architecture.

“What happens a lot is that you really like a lot of the people who you’re selling houses to, so you wind up taking care of their properties for them,” he said. “So, you’re going the extra mile anyway on that. It just works so hand-in-hand with real estate. They’re buying or selling a house through you, so it works hand-in-hand to take care of the property.”

He added, “Then some homeowners wanted a little bit more than just the normal check on the house every month or so. They would call for storm preparedness: ‘I forgot to take my lawn chairs in; will you get that grill off the deck for me; I know it’s going to blow off with this storm coming.’

“In the mess of the aftermath of Sandy, I just got so many phone calls from people panicked, asking, ‘Please check my property and tell me what’s going on.’ So I wound up doing that, and doing minor repairs to make it safe until they could get back to the Island, and that kind of thing.”

Checks can watch out for gas leaks, pipe breaks, much more.

“Some people have a car in the garage, so we’ll keep the car trickle-charged; we’ll start it up for them. Icy docks with bubbler systems, we’re checking on that. You’re probably spending a good hour at the property, especially if it’s a large bayfront with docks and little outbuildings,” he said.

Interior checks include but are not limited to: alarm system; signs of forced entry; making sure doors and windows are locked and free of water infiltration; checking temperature settings; checking circuit breaker panels for trips or surges; being aware of unusual sounds or odors; checking smoke and CO2 detectors for proper operation; checking for signs of water damage on floors, ceilings and walls; checking dishwasher and clothes washer for leaks; observing refrigerator/freezer temperatures; flushing toilets to prevent dry gaskets; and more.

He is experienced in construction and renovation but can recommend contractors for big jobs when needed. “We have a good network of people. I’ve been on the Island my whole life, so you get to know everyone.”

GPS provides oversight services, being there to meet the contractor on behalf of the property owner. The service is “to be there while they’re in the house, and make sure things are going the way you wanted them to.”

Alarm response is yet another service. When the fire company responds to an alarm going off at the property, Fella can be there at the same time with his client’s keys. His membership in the High Point Volunteer Fire Co. meshes with service to the client.

“It’s nice to show up with the keys. And if there is a situation, the fire company doesn’t have to break in to get in,” he explained.

In fact, Fella got a fire call in the middle of the interview for this story, emphasizing the fact that he is on call and makes himself available.

Overrall, “I enjoy properties and houses; it’s my love,” he said.

For more information, call 609-384-1776 or email rfella@yahoo.com. The business also has a Facebook page.

— Maria Scandale

mariascandale@thesandpaper.net

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