Rentals-So Easy Even A Caveman Can Do them-WRONG!

Finding tenants is so easy—all you do is run an ad on Craigslist, answer the e-mail, show the home and BAM—you got a tenant!

 I wish it were that easy!

 For the uninformed owner, finding tenants, getting all the right documentation together, and managing the property seem like a “no-brainer”. I’ll tell you a little secret: it’s not.

The landlord tenant relationship is adversarial at best, so knowing this from the start alleviates making some very dumb decisions.

 Example #1

 Henry owns a home. He works a day job and decides he’d like to “save some money” by finding his own tenant. He runs an ad, finds a tenant, signs a 6 month lease and thinks he has done his job. 3 months later, the place is trashed, and rent hasn’t been paid. Henry thought she was so nice, so didn’t get a security deposit, or even a credit report (where he would have found out she had a previous eviction). When on month 2 the rent was 2 weeks late, the “tenant told him she would pay.” 3 weeks went by, no rent. Henry called the tenant (NEVER beg for rent) and she gave him a “sob story”. He finally called his Attorney and $3000 later, got her out.

 Example #2

Annette owned a lovely large, sprawling home. She wanted to take a year sabbatical and find tenants to rent her home. She ran an ad and found a nice couple, agreed upon a rental amount and drew up “her own lease”. The tenants said they “loved to garden” so Annette left the landscaping and watering up to them. BIG mistake! Upon Annette’s return, the landscaping was overgrown, or dead, poorly maintained and not watered for months (water was too expensive). Since this was a gray area in her “homemade” lease, she could not hold tenants responsible.

Paying property management to maintain your property is worth every cent. The above scenarios would never have happened if I managed the property. I LOVE single family homes. Call me for a FREE consultation.


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Things To Give Up After 50—-OH, Really??

—–Things to give up after 50—Oh Really?

 Yes folks, I am over 50——hard to believe, with the spring still in my step and the “don’t trust anyone over 30” attitude, Woodstock just a memory (from my older sister of course). A recent edition of the AARP Bulletin had this to say in the following Ridiculist.

Words To Ax: Whatever (ok — whatever) Sick! (really?) Smashed (overserved or hammered…hmmm I think smashed still works well in some situations) Hot (except when referring to flashes?) Kick it (nope, can’t lose this one, I still like to kick it with some old pals.)

 What Not To Wear: Miniskirts, low-rise pants, super tight skinny jeansT-shirts that say “sexy grandma”, purses with dogs, gold chains. (oh jeez, I got to rethink my entire wardrobe?)long hair past your shoulders (mohawk time), piercings and tatoos (aw come on– that’s no fun)

 Things Never To Do Again: Jell-o shots, Karaoke after Jell-o shots (darn–got to change my plans on Friday night), Drinking champagne from your son’s girlfriend’s shoe (I don’t have a son—phew)

 Anybody have anything to add to this Ridiculist?


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Why People (even Realtors) Need to Travel more:

I have made international travel a part of my life since I was 19. It started  with “Spring Break” (not the ~girls gone wild kind~ …oh…ok it was) in Bermuda. As the plane left the airport on our return to Boston, I looked out the window and saw the turquoise waters, in differing hues fade slowly from sight as we ascended into the clouds. My thoughts were: travel is going to be a huge part of my life forever.

A 6 month backpacking trip to Europe, Greece and Israel in my early 20’s followed, with trips over the years back to Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa. I just returned from 2 weeks in China.

What does it say about the Swiss, whose streets you could eat lunch off of, or the Chinese
who think traffic signals are merely “suggestions”  but  where it is illegal to own guns and there is virtually no violent crime? Or the Italian culture where mom, dad, kids, grandparents and great grandparents are together on week-ends sharing a meal? Or a poor Berber in Morocco who would welcome a stranger into his home with open arms and offer them mint tea when they had little else?


I loved every place I have been, because I took my cultural “eyes” and left them at home. I “saw” people through different lenses.  

I will make a confession: I don’t like sightseeing. You may be shocked to hear this. “Than why in the heck do you travel”? you may be thinking.

I travel because it makes me a happier, more grounded individual. I return from a trip with an appreciation of what freedom means, especially to a woman. I travel to witness a culture completely different than mine with language and food I may know nothing about. I observe the differences in shops, café’s and traffic and get insight into the psyche of a culture. I am more empathetic, content and open-minded. I can be friends (or feel comfortable with clients) who have diverse backgrounds and who think differently. I appreciate my country in a more profound way and try not to “knit-pick” our political process and legal system.

So next time you are thinking of going to a Therapist, save the money for a trip to a foreign country. You might just get a whole lot more out of it. 





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10 Pointers for the NEWBIE Landlord

Maybe you already own income property, or perhaps you are thinking of buying an investment for your retirement portfolio. Did you know the number one reason income properties do not succeed is due to poor management?

That’s right! So why not learn to “self-manage” and reap the rewards of extra cash flow and peace of mind. It really is not that difficult or time consuming. I wish I had someone tell me the following things before I became a Landlord 25+ years ago.

1.Treat your tenants fairly. They are paying your mortgage and it is because of them you are going to have a successful investment.

2.Never ask for rent. Everyone knows their rent is due on the first of the month, and asking for it just sets up a “Landlord as Beggar” scenario.

3.Always do credit checks. You never know who is hiding an eviction or worse.

4.Don’t micromanage your property. Or if you do, don’t make it obvious. No one wants to see a “nosey” landlord on a daily basis. It makes for animosity and distrust.

5.Accepting late rent even once without a late fee just because you are a nice guy sets up a bad precedent. After 2 late rents, I have it in my lease the tenant will be given a 30 day notice to leave.

6.Accepting dogs can be a disastrous decision. Not only can some dogs be noisy and bite, but some Insurance Companies do not allow some breeds and will not pay for a claim if there is an incident. You cannot imagine the problems many Landlords have from dogs. It’s just not worth it.

7.Be “friendly” with your tenants but never “friends”.

8.ALWAYS have tenant fill out a “Move-in Checklist”. This is the single best protection for you in case you have to go to court. Take photos if necessary.

9.Empower your tenants by allowing them to make some decisions. For example, I do not assign parking spots in one of my 4 plexes, I let them figure out amongst themselves who parks where.

10.Cats may not be your favorite animal, but 75% of the renting population has a feline. A cat cannot bite neighbors, is quiet and doesn’t chew wood work. An extra pet deposit can be taken on top of the security deposit.







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Tips On Management:Guidlines To Follow When Rent Is Not Paid


  1. If you are in this business for respect, get out asap. Tenants don’t pay rent out of 
  2. respect, they pay to avoid the pain of late fees or eviction.
  3. No pain, no gain! Just like kids tenants won’t do what you want until there is some kind of pain to avoid or eliminate.
  4. Tenants lie and landlords tend to be gullible. We WANT to believe in people.
  5. If they didn’t pay because they don’t have the money, you can’t get blood from a turnip. No amount of letters, talk or threats will make a bit of difference. If they can’t pay, they need to go.
  6. Stick with the system. Rent, late fees, eviction. Both your life and the tenant’s life will have less stress. Don’t reinvent the wheel for every resident excuse. We ADAPT the
    system to unusual circumstances, but the system stays in place.
  7. Stay in control. The landlord is in charge, NOT the tenant. Losing this control will cost you big time in aggravation and legal fees.
  8. Don’t micromanage your property—-or don’t make it obvious .Seeing your landlord on a daily basis will only cause resentment and anger. NEVER rent to people you don’t trust.
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Tiny Houses, Shipping Containers, under $100K?

read on…

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Tips for the Tenant: How to stand out from the crowd…

I have some advice for anyone interested in      renting a home with less then stellar credit in a very tight rental market in San Diego. Don’t get discouraged and automatically think the agent/owner will reject you if there are alot of prospects. Smile, be sincere, be yourself AND:

1. Be punctual. When I think of tardiness I think LATE(rent).

2. Be honest. Explain to the agent (or owner) that you have had a past bankruptcy, credit issue etc. and bring proof of it. One of my best tenants brought a “discharged” bankruptcy form with her when she came to see the home I had for rent. She explained she did some dumb things when she was younger. I rented the home to her and she was never late with the rent and it was immaculate when she left. She turned out to be one of my best tenants in the San Diego rental market.

3. Bring a copy of your credit report, phone #’s of your employer, copy of your driver’s license etc. ANYTHING that will make filling out the application easier. Blank spaces left on applications, and even illegible applications have been tossed by me, when I have 10 other prospects. It shows lack of respect or fear of disclosure.

4. Be polite and non-confrontational! Leave your bad attitude at home.No owner wants to deal with a disgruntled tenant from day #1. What will the tenancy be like in 3 months?

5. Wear clean clothing. Casual is fine but neatness is important. The owner will assume if you show up in tattered clothing, that is the way the apt. will look when you live there.

6. Watch your language. Profanity is not acceptable and most owners will be turned off.

7. Don’t be afraid to follow up if you have not heard from the owner. Expressing your enthusiasm about a house in the San Diego rental market always helps:(“we have always wanted a pool and this is one of the loveliest I have seen” or “I love the kitchen, we enjoy cooking”). I like to choose tenants who LOVE the property. Passion is contagious.

8. Don’t badmouth your present landlord. The San Diego rental market is a tight community and word gets around.

9. Don’t leave your checkbook at home. The one with the check for the application fee or first month’s rent is always seen as a more serious tenant.

Remember, you are going on an “interview” and first impressions are lasting. Put your best foot forward and I bet you  that home you want in the San Diego rental market will be yours.

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The Difference Between a Condo and a “Stock” Co-op


Condominiums and co-ops can be confusing since both types of projects can look the same. The main difference is what you actually own.

A condo means an undivided interest in common with the other condo owners in a portion of real property together with a separate interest in space called a unit. A “Stock co-op” (also called a co-op) means a development in which a corporation is formed for the purposes of holding title to the improved real property, either in fee or by lease, and the shareholders receive a “right of exclusive occupancy” in a portion of the real property and title to which is held by the corporation.

When you purchase a condo what you actually own is the air space within the walls of the unit. The air space is shown and defined on the Condo Plan which shows the dimensions of each unit and and their location within the boundaries of the project. You do not own the land that the condo project sits on. You will also own an interest in the common are of the entire project. The amount of this interest will be established in the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC & R’s) that govern the use of the entire project. You will also become a member of the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) which is responsible for,among other things, the maintenance and upkeep of the common area, and you will be assessed dues, usually monthly to help fund this maintenance and upkeep.

When you purchase a Co-op you are not purchasing any interest in real property or air space. You become a shareholder in the corporation that holds title to the project.By becoming a shareholder you receive a right of exclusive occupancy in a portion of the project. This right is customarily in the form of a lease between the corporation holding title to the project (Lessor) and the shareholder (Lesee). The portion of the project you gain the right to use will be described in the lease and will be shown and defined on a diagrammatic floor plan which can be recorded as a separate document or made part of some other document. The use of this portion of the project will be regulated by some form of CC& R’s and may be further regulated by the terms of the lease. Just as with a condo you will become a member of an HOA with similar rights and obligations as outlined above.

Remember: A condo is owning real property and a co-op is owning shares in a corporation.

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Community Property with Right of Survivorship-Property Vesting in California


Community Property with Right of Survivorship is a relatively new way for married couples to hold title to property in California. It combines the best features of Joint Tenancy and Community Property and enables property that was deeded after July 1, 2001 to pass to the surviving spouse without having to go through estate administration known as probate.
Historically the benefit of holding title has been a double adjustment in the income tax valuation of inherited assets to reflect the new fair market value at the time of death of a spouse.
The following is an example of how the taxable profit from selling a property can be affected by holding title as Community Property, Joint Tenancy or Community Property with ROS (Rights of Survivorship).

Charlotte and Jake bought a house in 1989 for $100K. Five years later they moved out converting it into a rental. After many years, the rental property has depreciated down to a basis of $40K while the value has risen substantially. If it sells for $300k (after commissions and costs of sale) the story has 3 possible endings, depending on when it is sold and how they hold title.

1.Taxed to the Max
Jake gets terminally ill. During this time Charlotte sells the property. The profit ($300K-basis of $40K) $260K is taxable.

2. Lower Taxes Higher Fee
Jake passes away. Charlotte sells the property immediately thereafter. The amount of taxable profit depends on how they hold title. If held as Joint Tenants, the basis in inherited property is adjusted to the date of death value. This would apply to the half of the property Charlotte inherited from Jake. The other half that she already owned was valued at $20K (1/2 of $40K basis) and stays the same. Jake’s half, now owned by Charlotte is adjusted to $150K. Charlotte’s new basis, her $20K plus Jake’s $150K is now $170K. When she sells for $300K only the difference of $130K is taxable. Under Joint Tenancy the property automatically passes to Charlotte without passing through probate thus avoiding the delay and the expense associated with the process. Unfortunately under Joint Tenancy only the deceased spouse’s one half interest obtains an adjusted tax basis, which is equal to one half the fair market value of the property at the time of death. If held as Community Property each spouse owns the entire property so Federal Tax Law says that the basis is adjusted to the date of death value for the entire property. Charlotte’s basis is now $300K. When she sells for $300K, nothing is taxable.
However a drawback as vesting Title as Community Property is the legal expense often required to process the estate through probate. Probate fees typically equal about 5% of the gross value of the estate. Probate takes a year but can easily last twice that. During that time hearings are held before assets are sold or money paid out to the family.

3. No Taxes-No Fees
If held as Community Property with ROS upon the death of either spouse property automatically passes to the surviving spouse without probate and the property receives a 100% adjustment basis for tax purposes. This allows the inheriting spouse to avoid probate and sell immediately, if desired, with no taxable proceeds from the sale. 

How you hold title can greatly affect the outcome of a sale. Contact your tax advisor to find out about your unique situation. 


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Facebook-It’s Not Just Another Pretty Face!


For better or for worse, social networking is here to stay. It’s the way we communicate in the 21st century, and if you feel it’s just not the same as a phone conversation, you are correct! But that doesn’t mean it’s worse—–in some cases, it can be better. We all recall the first “touch” to a client (friend) may be a post card or a phone call—-think of making a nice comment on their Facebook page as the same thing.

We all lead busy lives and none of us ever have enough emotional support, especially in the Real Estate industry which is loaded with stress, egos, tempers flaring, irate clients and broken “promises”. Sometimes you just don’t want to “talk about it”. You want to partake in a hobby, take a long walk, cook, or a multitude of other things. When I sign onto Facebook, I find a varied assortment of photos and conversations. Somebody’s dog just learned how to sit, an old friend just became a mother for the first time, a co-worker got a promotion  In all of these scenarios, people are reaching out to other people. They want a “good job” or “go get ’em” or “you ROCK!” as a comment….a little praise, ego-stroking, emotional support etc. Wha’s so bad about that? I just got a “thumbs up” on a photo I had taken and that I was proud of—it really made me feel good. Now of course these comments can get out of hand, and drama rules the day, but I just “hide” those negative friends or comments.

I also have learned alot about some of my Facebook “friends”. Many are not close friends, but I have found out we share the same interests or hobbies, or have mutual friends. One person I found had a cousin I went to elementary school with where we had been really good friends. A few of us have formed a group called “Healthful Food Club”, where many of us are vegetarians, sharing recipes, food industry news and trading ideas on how to eat better. How comforting to come home from a long day and check into see “Omar’s Food Diary” and his progress…he’s on a 99 day quest for healthier eating. Groups of people with similar interests and ideas are the basis of many long term friendships.

Reaching out to other people and sharing similar interests are the basis of forming friendships.

People say social networking is a waste of time, and why don’t we just meet face to face? Well I don’t know about you but with my 200+ friends on Facebook, that would not be humanly possible. How great is it that we can have a social meeting place to reach out to each other and make new friends? They are of course virtual friends, but I have made many new “real” friends from Facebook. We should  take advantage of everything we have to network. Isn’t that the crux of our business?


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