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?


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Every Referral is a Diamond


I recently got a referral from someone I didn’t know well, but we have a mutual friend who knows I specialize in income properties and niche commercial. I took the lead, followed it up and obtained a listing.

 In looking at my present clients, I realized several clients are a result of Referrals, a few from marketing, one from a sign and another from a family member.

 Each client represents a conduit to more business—think about Facebook, and how 1 friend has a multitude of connections and so on and so forth.

 Taking care of your present clients is so important. Because trying to obtain more referrals may be a result of a newsletter article or even a thoughtful birthday card.. If they are pleased with your services, then that’s easy—they will be delighted to refer you business.


 It’s a “no-brainer”


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tiny House People—How Much Is “Enough” Space?

Have you ever wondered about how much space you really need to live comfortably? It seems Europeans have different ideas than Americans. Could you live in 150 s.f.? Impossible? Watch this film & see how ingenious some folks are.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Property Damage?

What’s Damage?

Messy junk in  junkyard.I’ve been asked by my clients who act as their own property manager, what is considered damage after Tenant moves out? The laws in every state differ, so I am not addressing CA laws specifically.

 When a tenant moves into a dwelling, there’s a Move-In Checklist that is given to them. I allow 7 days, giving the tenant some time to settle in. I explain this is simply a “statement of condition”, not a “request for repairs”. BIG difference.

 If the owner would like to take photos, that’s fine. But unless you have a commercial grade camera with zoom lens, dirt on the carpet or wear and tear on the floor is not going to be visible. My advice: get the place in great shape, maximizing your ability to attract quality tenants and insuring your property value stays high.

 Wear and tear: this is something you can’t expect your tenant to pay for. If you have a 10 year old carpet and tenant leaves a small stain that is barely visible, forget it. If the carpet was brand new and  the cat urinated on it, you can have them pay for the entire carpet replacement. If you have screens that were torn by cat (and I have yet to see any catAngry cat not participate in this creative past time)or blinds that were bent by a curious child, then that is damage. They need to pay for replacement, but I’d be very lenient with the cost, since kids and cats act like….well, kids and cats. I delineate between “malicious” damage and accidental or “wear and tear” damage.

 Carpet cleaning is a sticking point since my personal feeling is if the carpets were cleaned before move-in, than tenant’s dirt is on the carpet, and they need to pay to remove it. This is a gray area, since it’s believed to be “wear and tear” but I always deduct for this.

Handsome man painting wall.Repainting is just a fact of life when you own property, but do you expect a freshly painted unit to be filthy after a 6 month lease? Absolutely not, and that is not normal “wear and tear”. After 2 years, I sometimes only wash walls with TSP and touch-up scuffs, but that’s after a really good tenant.

 Lightbulbs: Yes, this has been an issue, since I have properties with recessed lighting and bulbs can cost $6.00/each. Should tenant replace burned out bulbs after move out? Absolutely, or they get the cost deducted from their security deposit.

Being fair is the name of the game….there are just some things that as owners, we have to write off as business expenses. And inappropriate security deposit deductions will many times land you in court.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Move-Out Cleaning-How I Solved a Problem and Empowered My Tenants



Move-Out Cleaning-How I Solved a Problem and Empowered My Tenants


When I deliver an apt. to a tenant, the place is thoroughly cleaned. If my tenants leave the place as it was on the day they moved in, they get their entire security deposit returned. Unfortunately, what I consider clean and what someone else considers clean are 2 different things. An argument always ensues, where the tenant swears they spent 6 hours scrubbing the floors, kitchen and bath—yet the interior of the oven is dirty, the ceiling fan blades are covered with soot, and the refrigerator has remnants of last night’s dinner. Even with a professional cleaning company, I have had tenants complain about the quality of the work (and I have agreed). What’s a Property Manager to do? I have addressed this issue in the following way:

I allow the new tenant to bring the place up to “their standards” and pay them $25/hour for doing so. I deduct this amount from the previous tenant’s security deposit, and credit it to the new tenant on the subsequent month’s rent. Since it is usually only about 2 hours time, the $50 is a bargain for me to pay. Cleaning companies charge more than 2-3 times that for a couple of hours cleaning. The old tenant is thrilled not to have to pay $150 and the new tenant is thrilled because they get a deduction for cleaning (that they most likely planned on doing anyhow).

Everyone is happy and I empower my tenants in the process and an empowered tenant is a happy tenant!



Join My Facebook Investor Group.




Posted in Active Rain | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Closing Costs: Why Do We Pay Them and What Are They?

As a new Buyer of property in San Diego, CA you may be budgeting for the purchase of your home. Closing costs are a necessary part of the equation. This list will give you an idea of what is typically included. The Buyer and Seller may negotiate “Who Pays What”, but once the contract is signed instructions cannot be changed unless mutually agreed upon by all parties in writing.

Real Estate Commission:

If the property is listed or sold by an agent there will be a commission to calculate.

The Seller is required to pay the taxes through the last day of ownership.

Homeowner Insurance:
The Buyer of property in San Diego,CA
will purchase a fire and hazard insurance policy.

Assessments and Liens:
Assessments and liens against individuals and/or the property must be paid off before the close of escrow. The Title company will normally show much of this information in the (PR) Preliminary Report and the escrow officer will work with the appropriate parties to clear up any problems so that escrow may close.

Escrow Fees and Title Insurance:
The Seller or Buyer can pay the Title Insurance fee that is referred to as the Owner’s policy. The owner’s policy covers the new owner’s interest and “title” to the new property. The Buyer of property in San Diego,CA typically pays for the “Lender Policy” that will cover the new lender’s interest in the “title” to the property. Escrow fees are usually split 50/50 between the Buyer and Seller.

Inspections and Other Fees:
Attorney fees
Loan Fees
NHD (Natural Hazard Disclosure eports)
Pest Inspection and Correction Costs
Document Preparation
Deed Recording
Home Warranty
Tax Service Fees

Specific amounts of fees can vary, but your agent can run a Net Sheet to give the Buyer of property in San Diego, CA a pretty good summary of what to expect.

Posted in Active Rain | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Charlie Stone School of Hard Knocks-Investing in San Diego, CA Property

My dad wasn’t a wealthy man, nor did he have more than a high school education but he was one of the smartest people I knew. His advice has gotten me further than much of the knowledge I have accrued from college degrees and industry courses. Being raised during the Depression, he had to assist supporting his mother and 4 siblings when he was 12 years old (his father had died very young) by being a golf caddy. There was no welfare or public assistance at the time. Fortunately, the Stone brothers had inherited very high intelligence and a strong work ethic. His brother, my Uncle Harold, had nothing more than an 8th grade education, but became extremely successful in the stock market. My dad worked at General Electric for 35 years. He also ran his own business, designing wrought iron fixtures for industry. He was always resourceful and optimistic.I never once heard him complain about what he didn’t have. He was a man of short stature, reserved in nature but one of the most honest and diligent I knew. 

Here are the basics of his business plan:

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. This was advice he gave to me when I was complaining about rents and tenant issues. In other words, shut up and keep on working hard, or get out of the business. You will always have battles to fight, no matter what industry you are in.

If you invest in several pieces of Real Estate, you will never be homeless: Perhaps not 100% true, but more than once did I have to move into a rental unit I owned to compensate for a slow R.E. market and less income than I expected that year.

There is no such thing as being a “little” honest. Either you are or you are NOT. Hmmm. We all don’t like to hear this, but it’s the truth. Integrity goes a long way in this industry.


Buy “bread and butter” property. In a market downturn, the demand will be much higher than high end property. Wow, have I learned this. Not only the past few years in San Diego CA Real Estate but also in Boston in the early 90’s. The luxury condos were sitting empty and my phone was ringing off the hook for the “less fancy” affordable units.

Posted in Active Rain | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

10 Questions To Ask At An Open House

for sale10 Questions to Ask at an Open House. Not everything about your potential new home may be visible on your first walk-through.

Visiting an open house gives would-be buyers the opportunity to speak directly to the seller’s agent. And the best way to take advantage of this personal meeting is to be prepared. Get the inside scoop by asking these 10 questions:

1. How many offers have been made? Does the agent look suspiciously happy? The agent might have received word that an offer is coming in any minute. If the agent has received offers, the agent will probably be eager to tell you, in hopes that you’ll bid as well and drive the price up.

2. How stable has the price been? Your agent can find out how many times the price has changed since it was first listed, but the seller’s agent will likely jump at the chance to explain why. Perhaps the price dropped because the seller has to move on a tight timeline. Info like this might even clue you in that the list price is somewhat flexible.

3. Why do the sellers want to move? If the sellers are moving because the area is unsafe, the schools are terrible or the neighbor practices the drums at midnight, their agent is unlikely to tell you. But ask this question anyway, and try to read between the lines.

4. How long has this property been on the market? You can find this information yourself or by asking your agent to check the local multiple listing service, but the seller’s agent will be able to put this information in context. Perhaps it’s been on the market for a long time, but only because the sellers received an offer from a buyer whose financing fell through. Or perhaps the house went on the market this week, but the sellers have had a lot of interest and expect it to sell quickly. All of this is useful when you’re deciding whether to make an offer.

5. What issues does the house come with? The seller is required to tell potential buyers about any known structural problems or code violations. It’s standard to ask for a written seller’s disclosure, so request one – and if you’re lucky, a talkative agent might reveal more in person.

6. When was the house last updated? Clearly visible updates, such as new appliances or a fresh coat of paint, are easy to identify. However, features like the age of the roof and wiring that can’t be easily seen are equally as important and need to be asked about.

7. How much do utilities cost? Know what you’re getting into before you make an offer by asking to see recent utility bills. If you’re moving from an apartment into a house, you might be surprised at the impact utility bills have on your budget.house with key

8. What’s the seller’s timeline? Sometimes sellers choose a buyer’s offer simply because of timing. Perhaps they want to sell quickly, or delay the sale so their kids can finish the school year. The more you know about what the sellers want, the more easily you can work around it — and put together a tempting offer while getting a good deal on the price.

9. Where can I get a bite to eat? Getting directions to a local eatery or coffee shop will tell you a lot about your neighborhood. If there’s a retail strip close by that locals frequent and feel proud of, chances are you’ll love it, too.

10. What are the neighbors like? Is the neighborhood kid-friendly? Are there lots of retired people? Is there a thriving bar scene on the weekends? Some people are fine doing their own thing and don’t require (or want) a tight-knit neighborhood community. But other people are much happier if they’re surrounded by kindred souls who are in a similar stage of life. The seller’s agent will be able to give valuable information about who you’d be rubbing shoulders with, if you choose to buy.

And don’t forget: While open houses are great venues to ask questions and listen, be careful not to give away more than you want about your own situation. Being discreet about your finances and how much you love the home will benefit you when it’s time to bargain for a good price.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Buyers: 7 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Condo.


Condo Buyers in San Diego, CA: 7 Questions To Ask Before Buying  A Condo

You’ve found your dream condo and are ready to relax among the mango trees and swaying date palms. Hold everything. To keep from getting
stuck with a lemon, you’ve got to do some homework. Here are the seven most important questions you need to ask before buying a condo.


1. “What’s the Beef?”

Take a look at the minutes of the condo association board meetings to see what the owners have been griping about. If everyone was complaining about the faulty plumbing or the gardener’s absence, you know that the complex is having management difficulties. Even if there aren’t any complaints, reading the minutes will reveal the sorts of projects that are under way at the complex — projects the seller may have neglected to mention.

2. “Who’s Been Naughty and Who’s Been Nice?”

Find out the delinquency rates of present owners. If people aren’t paying
their association dues on time, that is either a sign of discontent or an
indication that the association might be underfunded.

3. “How Much Is In the Repair Fund?”

Ask if the community has done a reserve-fund review in the past five
years. Lester Giese, the author of The 99 Best Residential & Recreational
Communities in America, recommends the following formula: If the complex is one to 10 years old, the reserve fund should have 10% of the cost of replaceable items (roofs, roads, tennis courts, etc.). Between 10 and 20 years old, the repair fund should be at 25% to 30%. At 20 years, that amount should be 50% or above. Residents who brag that they don’t pay much in maintenance may be in a complex that either is not being kept up well or is living beyond its means.

4. “Can You Cover Me?”

If you look at nothing else, get a copy of the certificate of insurance,
which is a summary of the association’s policy. First see if the replacement
costs covered by the policy are an accurate estimate of the cost of
rebuilding. Then make sure that the policy has a building-ordinance clause,
which means that the insurance will cover the cost of bringing the building
up to code if there is any rebuilding to be done. On older buildings, there
may have been many code upgrades since the time of construction. Finally,
make sure that you understand exactly what the association policy covers and
what you are responsible for. The smart condo owner will insure his or her
personal belongings, along with any other items within the unit that are not
covered by the association’s policy. If you have trouble understanding the
insurance lingo, take the insurance certificate to an agent whom you trust
and who understands the state laws.

5. “Does the Association Present Any Legal Problems?”

Buying a single-family home without a lawyer is no big deal for many
people. But with a condo, there’s so much more involved. Contact a local real
estate lawyer and have him or her go over the bylaws of the association. Do
they make sense? Are they consistent with the state laws? Giese, the author,
once found that the association bylaws of a large garden-style condo complex
had been lifted from the books of a high-rise condo, leaving confused tenants
with rules about shared hallway space and the correct use of garbage chutes.
Benny Kass, a Washington real estate attorney, recommends that you also have your lawyer screen the association at the local courthouse, to see if any
owners have filed suit against it.

6. “Is the Complex Renter-Friendly?”

If the renter population is over 10%, there should be clear rental
policies, either listed in the bylaws or tacked on as an amendment. Does the
management company find renters for you? If so, do they get enough good renters?
Ask other tenants about their experience. In addition, ask to see the
association’s rental lease, and have a real estate lawyer look it over. Keep
one thing in mind, though: An association can change its bylaws to prohibit
or restrict renting at any time. The more owners who rent, the less chance
that will happen.

7. “Am I My Community’s Keeper?”

Watch out for a condo whose owners manage the place themselves. Although
many are operated efficiently, self-management can lead to more hassles for
owners — especially those who live thousands of miles away. If the complex is professionally managed, check out the management company as thoroughly as you check out the association. Ask other owners. Ask people in nearby buildings. And be sure to interview the day-to-day manager directly. If you hook up with a bad manager, you can be sure of this: Your dream condo will keep you up at night.

Join My Facebook Group.



Posted in Active Rain | Tagged , , | Leave a comment