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John Souerbry's Blog

By John Souerbry | Broker in Palo Alto, CA
  • Tips For Spring Rental Property Inspections

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in Santa Clara County, Rentals in Santa Clara County, Investment Properties in Santa Clara County  |  April 10, 2013 6:39 PM  |  484 views  |  No comments

    Tips For Spring Rental Property Inspections It’s Spring – time for rental property owners or their property management company to conduct walk-through residential or commercial rental property inspections.  As I’ve discussed in many online articles, rental units of all types should be inspected several times each year to head off any small problems that might become major if not corrected early.

    Inspections two or three times per year benefit the owner and tenants by ensuring that the property is in good condition and that no problems exist that could result in complaints or vacancies.  Here are just a few tips for conducting walk-through inspections.

    1.    Ask tenants if they have any issues.  These could be with the property, neighbors, or anything else that could affect their use or enjoyment of the property.

    2.    Check heating and cooling systems thoroughly.  Whether going into a cold or warm season, make sure that heating and cooling systems work properly.  Run each system until it reaches and maintains its high and low operating limits.  Check doors, walls and windows for breaks, cracks and leaks.

    3.    Check water faucets and drains for drips and leaks. Look for visible leaks and dampness.  Also check for possible mold or mildew.  If you suspect a problem, call in a pro for a more detailed evaluation.

    4.    General condition and use of the property. This includes all the visual signs of potential problems. Dirty dishes in the sink, food left in the open, or trash and recycling bags left near the doorway are signs of potential bug or rodent infestation – now or in the future.  Holes in the wall signal tenant abuse.  Brown spots on walls or ceilings could mean water leaks.  Black marks around electrical outlets are either signs of an electrical problem or abuse.  Take pictures of everything that might be a problem.

    5.    Verify all the residents. Make sure tenants have not invited additional residents to move in without putting them on the lease or have sublet rooms in violation of their lease.  You want to guard against exceeding overcrowding standards and allowing unhealthful conditions to exist on the property.

    Walk-through rental property inspections are meant to be general in nature.  When a problem – or potential problem – is observed, a professional inspector or contractor (plumber, electrician, etc.) should be called in for a more detailed look.  If the problem is administrative or involves a potential lease violation, address it immediately and make all correspondence with the tenant in writing.

    If you have questions or would like help conducting your inspections, please drop me a line:  john@jsrealproperty.com

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates  (DRE 01370983)

  • Prioritizing Rental Property Repairs and Maintenance

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in California, Investment Properties in California  |  January 19, 2013 11:41 AM  |  232 views  |  No comments
    Prioritizing Rental Property Repairs and MaintenanceWhenever a repair request or complaint crosses a landlord’s desk, they need to assign a level of urgency to the task.  Like any business, rental property doesn’t automatically dispense monthly cash like an ATM.  Tenants and the property itself require constant care and attention.

    Here are the four levels of priority we assign to rental property issues and opportunities as they become known.

    1.    Health and Safety.  Any conditions that pose a risk to the health and safety of tenants, residents* and visitors must be addressed immediately.  In addition to a list of plumbers, electricians and other service providers who offer 24 hour emergency services, most landlords keep an emergency fund or line of credit available to cover these costs.

    2.    Lease Compliance. If the landlord doesn’t provide every property feature and service stated in the lease, their non-compliance could result in tenant complaints and high vacancy rates - even civil litigation.  Examples might be the number of parking places allocated to a tenant or repair of laundry facilities within a reasonable period of time.

    3.    Regulatory Compliance.  Municipalities often provide a checklist for landlords to conduct their own regulatory compliance inspections of their property.  Most inspection items relate to health and safety, but not all.  Check with the governing authority where the property is located for a list of laws and regulations applicable to rental property.  When appropriate, have experts conduct inspections of the structure and systems.

    4.    Value Improvement. Re-investing to improve rental property not only supports future rent increases, but it also lowers turnover.  Both drive a better number to the owner’s bottom line.  Keep a list of projects that will increase the value of the property whenever there are resources available to complete them.

    Questions?  Please drop me a line:  john@jsrealproperty.com

    * A resident resides on the property and is registered with the landlord, but is not a party to the lease.  An example is a tenant’s minor child.

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates (DRE 01370983) john@jsrealproperty.com

  • 5 Tips For Rental Owners Conducting Property Inspections

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in California, Rentals in California, Investment Properties in California  |  November 7, 2012 1:17 PM  |  364 views  |  2 comments
    5 Tips For Rental Owners Conducting Property InspectionsWalk-through inspections of residential rental property should be done twice each year – usually in fall and spring.  These inspections benefit the owner and the tenant by ensuring that the property is in good condition and that no problems exist that could result in complaints or vacancies.

    Here are five tips to help rental owners conduct semi-annual inspections of their properties.

    1.    Ask tenants if they have any issues.  These could be with the property, neighbors, or anything else that could affect their use or enjoyment of the property.

    2.    Check heating and cooling systems thoroughly.  Whether going into a cold or warm season, make sure that heating and cooling systems work properly.  Run each system until it reaches and maintains its high and low operating limits.  Check doors, walls and windows for breaks, cracks and leaks.

    3.    Check water faucets and drains for drips and leaks. Look for visible leaks and dampness.  Also check for possible mold or mildew.  If you suspect a problem, call in a pro for a more detailed evaluation.

    4.    General condition and use of the property. This includes all the visual signs of potential problems. Dirty dishes in the sink, food left in the open, or trash and recycling bags left near the doorway are signs of potential bug or rodent infestation – now or in the future.  Holes in the wall signal tenant abuse.  Brown spots on walls or ceilings could mean water leaks.  Black marks around electrical outlets are either signs of an electrical problem or abuse.  Take pictures of everything that might be a problem.

    5.    Verify all the residents. Make sure tenants have not invited additional residents to move in without putting them on the lease or have sublet rooms in violation of their lease.  You want to guard against exceeding overcrowding standards and allowing unhealthful conditions to exist on the property.

    Owner’s walk-through inspections are meant to be general in nature.  When a problem – or potential problem – is observed, a professional inspector or contractor (plumber, electrician, etc.) should be called in for a more detailed look.  If the problem is administrative or involves a potential lease violation, address it immediately and conduct all correspondence with the tenant in writing.

    If you have questions or would like help conducting your inspections, please drop me a line:  john@jsrealproperty.com

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates (DRE 01370983) john@jsrealproperty.com

    Tags: northern California property management, Bay Area property management, Silicon Valley property management, Napa Valley property management, Wine Country property management, East Bay property management, northern California real estate

  • 5 Things Rental Property Owners Can Do To Boost Profits In 2013

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in California, Property Q&A in California, Rentals in California  |  November 2, 2012 4:45 PM  |  329 views  |  1 comment
    5 Things Rental Property Owners Can Do To Boost Profits In 2013To get a head start on making your rental properties more profitable in 2013, consider my five easy things you can do now to get ready.

    1.    Inspect your units. Look for unreported items that require maintenance or repair.  Also look for signs of tenant abuse, lease non-compliance, and occupancy by residents that are not on the lease (overcrowding).

    2.    Conduct a market analysis.  Conduct a full market rent analysis to establish how your units compare to competing rentals in the area.  Identify changes or upgrades that would make your property more competitive and generate an acceptable return on investment.

    3.    Review leases.  Examine your standard lease document to determine if it has the latest and greatest in language and liability protection for the landlord.  Look at individual leases and forecast expirations and/or rent increases for the coming year.

    4.    Prepare a draft financial plan.  Create a draft budget for the coming year, starting with an analysis of current year cost and income data.  Look for ways to cut costs, boost revenue and improve overall rental property profitability.

    5.    Conduct a keep, sell or trade analysis.  Compare the return on investment to be achieved by continuing to operate the property versus selling under current market conditions.  Reasons that might support a sale could be 1) the property is becoming too expensive to maintain, 2) the neighborhood is starting a decline that could reduce your future rental profits, or 3) local government is enacting rent control, tax hikes or regulations that will make it more difficult to achieve your profit target.  Also consider whether it’s time to trade your property (1031 Exchange) to consolidate equity, reduce management costs, or improve the quality of your holdings.

    If you have questions regarding rental property management or need help doing any of the 5 things I’ve mentioned above, please send me an email:  john@jsrealproperty.com.

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates (DRE 01370983) john@jsrealproperty.com

    Tags: Rental property business plan, rental property profitability, California property management, Bay Area property management, Silicon Valley property management, Napa Valley property management, Wine Country property management, Fairfield property management, northern California real estate

  • Preparing A Rental Property Business Plan For 2013

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in California, Property Q&A in California, Rentals in California  |  November 2, 2012 4:16 PM  |  319 views  |  No comments
    Preparing A Rental Property Business Plan For 2013Rental property owners in much of the U.S. are looking forward to improved market conditions in 2013.  To prepare, many are drafting a simple rental property business plan to document how they will operate their properties and achieve their business goals.

    The purpose of the business plan is to state current conditions, identify measurable goals for the coming year, and provide a roadmap to achieve those goals.  Drafting the plan doesn’t need to be a time-consuming and burdensome task.  I recommend a simple, three part plan which can usually be contained in 10 pages or less – including financial data.  Here is a sample outline:

    1.    Overview.

    A.    Current Property Inventory

    B.    Market Rent Analysis

    C.   Business Strategies

    D.   2013 Goals

    2.    Management.

    A.    Leasing Systems and Procedures*

    B.    Maintenance Systems and Procedures*

    C.   Personnel

    3.    Financial.

    A.    Accounting Systems and Procedures*

    B.    2012 Operating Analysis

    C.   2013 Budget and Performance Indicators

    Each of the plan’s sections should be self-explanatory.  The depth to which each section addresses its topic will depend on the number of properties owned or managed and the number of people involved in operating the business.

    If you have questions regarding rental property management and business planning, please send me an email:  john@jsrealproperty.com.  Proposals to have us prepare a plan for your rental properties are available at no cost.

    * Standard operating procedures shouldn’t be included within the business plan, draft them separately and merely reference them in the plan.

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates (DRE 01370983) john@jsrealproperty.com

    Tags: Rental property business plan, California property management, Bay Area property management, Silicon Valley property management, Napa Valley property management, Wine Country property management, Fairfield property management, northern California real estate

  • North Silicon Valley Multi-Family Investment Properties For Sale 9/26/2012

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Menlo Park, Rental Basics in Menlo Park, Rentals in Menlo Park  |  September 26, 2012 6:44 AM  |  234 views  |  No comments
    Investors, here are northern Silicon Valley multi-family properties for sale with 5 or more units as of September 26, 2012.  This area includes the towns of Atherton, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Woodside, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale.

    This is the lowest sales inventory of units in a long time, due primarily to increasing home prices and rents throughout Silicon Valley.  If you would like to be contacted immediately when a property that fits your investment criteria comes on the market, drop me an email.

    Click on a property’s Location to view photos and the property’s MLS listing information.

     

    City

    Price

    Location

    Units

    Notes

    Mountain View

    $5,790,000

    1960 San Ramon Ave

    7

     

    Mountain View

    $2,500,000

    1187 Boranda Ave

    8

     

    Menlo Park

    $1,075,000

    1129 Willow Road

    5

     

    Menlo Park

    $1,029,000

    765 Marsh Road

    8

     

     

    Check back next week for updates or subscribe to this ePublication.

    Are you an active real estate investor always looking for great opportunities?  Click on Contact Us and tell me what you’re looking for.  I’ll make sure you receive immediate notification when properties that fit your criteria come on the market.

    Need help managing your units?  We provide property management services, plus:

    · Annual/special property inspections

    · Problem tenant investigations

    · Past-due rent collections

    · Eviction support

    Visit Silicon Valley MLS Search to find current listings for properties of all types anywhere in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties.

    Contact Us for help buying and selling Silicon Valley real estate.

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates  DRE 01370983  Tel (650) 815-6182  john@jsrealproperty.com

    Tags: Silicon Valley multi-family investment properties, Silicon Valley apartments for sale, Palo Alto investment properties, Silicon Valley real estate, Silicon Valley real estate agents

  • Investigating Problem Tenants

    Posted Under: Rental Basics in Palo Alto, Property Q&A in Palo Alto, Rentals in Palo Alto  |  September 22, 2012 8:36 AM  |  212 views  |  No comments

    Investigating Problem TenantsEventually all landlords have them – problem tenants.  The problem could be merely late or unpaid rent, but equally as common are complaints from neighbors about noise, smells, trash, illegal parking, or just plain “suspicious activity.”  Here are some tips that owners and property managers should consider as they investigate problem tenants and work to resolve the problem.

    1.    Start a file immediately.  From the first moment you become aware of a problem, start a file.  Note every contact with the source of the complaint, the tenant, and any potential witnesses.

    2.    Seek out the facts before assigning blame.  In my experience, whacky neighbors are just as common as problem tenants.  You are likely to receive complaints that have no factual support, so don’t make accusations until all the facts are in.  If not careful, you could lose a good tenant unnecessarily or expose yourself to legal problems.

    3.    Investigate carefully.  Rather than asking a neighbor if they’ve seen activity that could be criminal or a lease violation, restrict your questions to asking just what they saw without coming to any conclusions.  If you take pictures, use the date/time stamp feature on your camera and take pictures that “frame” the location (take pictures at an angle that may include a building number, street sign, or other location marker).  Whenever possible, take a witness with you on inspections (NOT a neighbor or another tenant) if you suspect lease violations.  Have the witness write and sign a statement of what they saw if violations are actually found.  If you suspect abuse of the property, call in a professional property manager, plumber, electrician or general building inspector – whichever you believe would be appropriate – to witness your inspection and to provide a professional opinion as to the nature and repair cost of the damage.

    4.    Determine if the problem potentially involves criminal activity.  For example, if the complaint is about strange smells, frequent foot traffic throughout the hours of darkness, or general “suspicious activity” – you could find yourself in the middle of a criminal investigation best handled by the police.  If you’re not sure about the nature of the problem but want to enter a rental to inspect as part of your investigation, consider asking the police to sit outside while you go in.  Some agencies will, others may say they are too busy unless you share a significant amount of evidence with them.  Keep in mind that as a landlord you only need to provide proper notice to enter your rental, in most situations police need probable cause or a warrant.  If you strongly suspect that criminal activity is taking place, help the police gather enough information to get a warrant and let THEM enter the premises first.

    5.    Tie complaints to lease requirements.  Every good lease document includes requirements for being a good neighbor.  Most have a “house rules” section that restricts noise, requires parking only in marked spaces, etc.  We also use an “Illegal Activity Addendum” that says the lease is terminated immediately if illegal activity takes place on the premises.  Whatever the complaint, be prepared to tell the tenant how their activity violates a specific requirement of their lease.

    Problem tenants are a drag on your time as an owner or manager and will often drive off good tenants in a multi-family facility.  Landlords can greatly reduce tenant problems and lease violations by screening rental applications thoroughly, conducting frequent on-site inspections, and taking immediate action to investigate problem situations.

    Finally – obtain the services of a professional property manager.  Even if you perform day-to-day management yourself, it’s a good idea to have a pro on-call to work with problem tenants, evictions, and situations that you prefer not to handle.  A good property manager can give you reliable advice and relieve some of the emotional burden of dealing with problem tenants – even tell you when it’s time to call an attorney.

    If you have questions regarding rental property management and tenant relations, please send me an email:  john@jsrealproperty.com  We provide support to owners and managers, including problem tenant investigations, past-due rent collections, and eviction assistance.

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    John A. Souerbry & Associates (DRE 01370983) john@jsrealproperty.com

    Tags: northern California property management, Bay Area property management, Silicon Valley property management, Napa Valley property management, Wine Country property management, Fairfield property management, northern California real estate, rental property eviction services

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