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San Antonio Property Management Blog

Following the Scout Motto

Monday, December 2, 2019

It goes without saying that being involved in Scouting as a youth played an important role in my upbringing. I learned the Scout Motto “Be Prepared”, the Scout Law, the Scout Oath and many other important life doctrines. I went on to earn the Eagle Scout rank, earned by less than 4% of all who enter Scouting. I point this out because even to this day the rules and lessons I learned then still apply.

I was explaining our philosophy over the Thanksgiving Holiday for property management and I found myself extolling the Scout Motto. Essentially, we are supposed to be prepared for when things go wrong. Unexpected work orders, a tree falling, dealing with vacancies, working on payment arrangements, etc. We develop plans for dealing with the unexpected before the emergency hits. Then we can be more effective because we have a plan already.

When we used to camp out, the rule was “Leave noTrace Behind”. In other words, leave the camp site not only like you found it but better. Pick up the trash that others left behind. Look for ways to make the experience better for the next person.

We apply that principle now when one tenant moves out and before the next tenant moves in. We try to address simple maintenance items so that we avoid more costly issues later. How? We clear a/c condensate drain lines, we make sure smoke alarms are current, we change out aerators on faucets, we add caulking to better insulate the home, we trim bushes and trees and more. And because we can do these things in house, we generally can accomplish these items  at minimal costs.

As I work with my son who has earned the Life Rank and is just a few requirements shy of his Eagle Scout rank, I see he is also internalizing these lessons. I look forward to seeing how he will put those lessons to work as an adult. You never know how what we learn as kids will help guide us as adults.

Veterans Day rememberance

Monday, November 11, 2019

Today I wanted to simply say Thank you to all those that have served our country! Whether you are Active Duty or have retired, your sacrifices for this country are appreciated. My dad served in the United States Navy from 1967 to 1971 serving as a jet mechanic for F4 Phantoms and on occasion A7's. While he did not engage in active combat, I know that there was still the sacrifice of time and being away from his family. That being said, we owe a great deal of thanks to the families that provide the essential support to our military personnel.

Enjoy your appreciation today and Thank you for your service!

The need for tenant insurance when you rent

Monday, October 28, 2019

We have been seeing a lot in the news recently regarding tragic events that impacted a number of home owners and tenants. From the multiple tornadoes that hit Dallas a couple of weeks ago to the devastating fires affecting California. Flooding is another constant threat as well that everyone needs to be aware of when we get those storms dropping inches of of water in a matter of minutes.

For homeowners it is tough enough to make sure you have the right insurance coverage from floods to wind driven damage to fire. In the end though, if you are a tenant, the landlord's policy is not going to cover your belongings in the event of a fire, flood or other damage. Most people assume that the landlords policy will cover them but that is not true. Besides being required in your lease to maintain a renter's insurance policy, it is a just a good way to protect your belongings. It allows you to pick up extra coverage for your really valuable items that may not have enough insurance coverage under a base policy.

The costs of these policies is relatively affordable, maybe just a couple hundred bucks a year. And for that additional insurance for jewelry, art work or other expensive items, it costs a little as maybe $5 per month. And imagine if you have your car broken into, your renters policy will step in to cover those items stolen.

In the end, take a little time to shop around. These policies can be bundled with your car insurance for multi line discounts and for more streamlined serviced. Don't wait, take steps now to protect your belongings and you will be glad you did.

How to protect your rental property

Monday, September 16, 2019

I was having a conversation with a landlord recently discussing his new property here in San Antonio. This landlord I learned had served in the service, retired with a good pension and had been fiscally responsible. Including the property here in San Antonio, he owned properties throughout Texas and beyond totaling 5 units. When we got to the topic of insurance on the property and what our recommendations were, the conversation took an interesting turn.

I mentioned to the owner that he would want to update his insurance agent on the home and make sure that coverage extended to this new property through his Umbrella Policy. It was then that he asked me what an Umbrella Policy was. I had assumed he already had one in place because these policies are easy to attain and cheap as well. I was glad to go into depth on the topic as it is one of my favorite tools for landlords.

Essentially, once you start acquiring assets, anyone can become a stronger target for a lawsuit. Obviously if you are broke and don't have anything, you probably aren't going to be sued. Even if you have very little but the perception exists that you have money or assets, then you have more liability. That is where the Umbrella Policy comes into play.

This policy essentially steps in to help provide legal representation should you be sued and if you are found negligent and damages are awarded, then the Umbrella Policy would step in. For example, if I were to get in a car wreck and hurt someone, if the judge and or jury award a settlement to the people I hit, the policy would cover that judgement up to the policy limits. I point out this example because it has nothing to do with my investment properties but I am still protected. When a potential lawsuit could be brought, one of the first steps the plaintiff attorney is going to do is see if you potentially have assets. It is not that hard to find those assets so you need a level of protection.

Companies like State Farm, Farmers, Allstate and just about anyone else will provide an Umbrella Policy. My recommended policy limits are roughly $1,000,000. That policy will run less than $500 annually in almost any cases. And I recommend that you purchase an Umbrella Policy when you buy your first investment property. As a property manager, one of my primary responsibilities it help owners mitigate risk while maximizing cash flow. I have found the Umbrella Policy to be a great tool in lowering exposure to risk.

All in all, if you don't have one yet, get one. It takes just minutes to add it to your policy coverage and can be a lifesaver in a difficult situation!

Summer A/C Maintenance tip

Monday, September 9, 2019

When it comes to summer heat, Texas is as dependable as it comes. Nothing like 20 plus consistent days of 100 degree heat with Heat Indexes making that feel more like 105! 

We have seen more and more work orders coming in for a/c systems failing to operate. Most times these systems just crash due to the high work load being placed on them. However other times it is something simple we can all do.

Everyone knows that San Antonio is known for it’s hard water. Just like a clogged coffee pot or other piping, your a/c system can get clogged as well. If your system is unable to drain out all that condensation, it will eventually shut down so that it does not create more problems.

In property management or even in your own home, the best fix is prevention. By pouring a cup of bleach down the clean out tub for your a/c, not only are you cleaning it out but you are also clearing out any possible obstructions. It is easy to do and takes but just a few minutes. 

Is a Home Warranty Worth It?

Monday, August 19, 2019

We handle work orders day in and day for our properties and most of the time the repairs are fairly simple. And most times owners will ask if they should keep a home warranty for more extensive repairs including those that include plumbing and HVAC? We always say it depends.

First, you have to evaluate how old the home is and the major mechanical components such as the a/c system, water heater, appliances, etc. If these items are less than 5 to 10 years of age, then we are going to recommend no. Even if they are older than that, the answer may still be no.

The biggest reason we say that you may not want to use a warranty is the cost. In most cases, owners will feel that the $500 to $700 they spend annually will help offset any major repair costs and they are safe. The truth is that many times, the warranty is going to still charge a deductible of $65 or more to file a claim and then they will not cover most of the expense for permits, modifications if required to make a repair and freon. And because we have no control over the contractors selected, we often are dealing with companies that don't deliver the best service.

Recently, we went 3 contractors trying to get an a/c serviced in August in Texas!. After a week we just opted to go ahead and bring in our contractor to get the job done and done right. The warranty vendor was going to charge $80 per pound for freon after the warranty company contributed just $10 per pound. Plus they had office hours of Monday through Friday from 8am to 3:30pm. That is not much of a service oriented company.

In the end, you may still end up paying just as much through the warranty and have more issues. In our experience, skip the warranty and save the deductible and the annual premium.

Summer Heat in San Antonio

Monday, August 12, 2019

It’s that time again…. Summer Heat time! With this extreme heat we are experiencing, now is the time to make sure you are being proactive with your a/c maintenance. We have probably another month of temperatures being at or over 100 degrees with the heat index so best to be prepared.

First and foremost, make sure you change those a/c filters monthly. Your systems ability to run smoothly and efficiently hinges on being able to breath well. When the filter gets clogged with dirt and debris, your system has to work harder to cool the air. When your system works harder it makes it more prone to break down because of the added stress. 

The next step is to keep that outside unit clean. Like the a/c filters you replace inside the home, it is important to keep those fins cleaned. This you can accomplish with just a water hose and pressure nozzle. By gently cleaning the fins, you are removing accumulated dirt and debris from between the fins thus allowing the unit to run smoother. This can be done every 3-4 months.

While still not a cure for everything that could affect your system, these simple tips can keep your unit from freezing up or not running properly. Have a happy rest of the summer and remember to stay hydrated and cool!

The Rental/ PCS Season is upon us

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Well, it is almost this season. Season for rentals that is. We see more properties starting to hit the market for lease between March and August since this is also the time most people are looking to move. In San Antonio, we could almost call this PCS Season since so many military are receiving orders.

One of the most common questions I receive when meeting with people preparing for PCS is what can I do to get my home ready and what is the time frame to hit the market. The first is pretty easy. Schedule a time for us or the property manager of your choice to come check out the home to make true recommendations.

Neutral paint colors are always a strong choice but beyond that, the flooring and other items are either going to pass muster or need to be replaced. If replacement is recommended, we have the vendors in place to replace the carpet usually at significant savings. Also, since you are already going to be stressed on move out, we recommend letting us have the property professionally cleaned including the carpets and we can be reimbursed at a later date. Again, our costs are going to be significantly less than what you think.

The other part of that question in time frame. We recommend meeting with a manager 60 days out from your move date so that 30 days out, there is the option to begin marketing the home to find a tenant. We want to minimize the downtime for you so getting on the market is crucial.

So when the time comes and you get orders and need to rent out your home, let us know. In addition to focusing on Northwest San Antonio for property management, we also offer military management discounts to help save!

How is the San Antonio market for buying real estate?

Monday, February 25, 2019

We have been receiving a lot of inquiries recently from clients we manage for asking how the market is doing in Bexar County and Texas overall. They are concerned as there are rumors and nation wide indicators of a market slow down in real estate. Those concerns are understandable but need to be put in context.

Owning a piece of real estate for investment of even your home is a little bit like owning stock. The value could move up or down and sometimes you will have minimal control on which direction it will take. However, when you plan for the long term, you will find that real estate is a solid investment.

First, Texas and Bexar County do no follow the trends of the East and West Coasts. We don’t experience 10-15% appreciation rates year over year and then swing south when the market drops. What has happened in Bexar County is when the market slows, our market simply levels out. Why? On average, our appreciation rate remains at 2-2.5% annually for market appreciation.

Given that we don’t have wild market swings up, we don’t see the market slide back fast either. When the market slowed in 2008 through 2011, property values did not necessarily always go backwards but what we saw were people over leveraged on homes with 103-107% financing and had no equity. No matter market conditions are, not having an equity position is always risky.

Now Second, like Dave Ramsey would say, invest in what you understand and know. If you can’t understand it, don’t do it. We work with a lot of investors to purchase properties in areas that are consistent performers. Our office understands what it takes to manage and rent properties in Northwest San Antonio and Bexar County and that is what we stick with. We know the markets for resale, rents and long term investment strategy. If you always focus on buying in a solid area, attaining an equity position when you purchase and positive cash flow, you will do well.

So to recap, when asked if the market is changing, my answer is that it could be slowing down but that does not mean that real estate would not be a strong investment. By focusing on the areas we know and sticking to our basic three criteria for investing, it’s hard to find a time when it is not a good time to invest.

If you have an interest in property management or investing in San Antonio let us know and we would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Are First Impressions really that Important?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

As we continue to build our business of helping people looking for property management services in San Antonio, we took the next step to add a Maintenance Technician. The idea was to have an employee that would provide more oversight of any needed repairs to the properties we manage but at a lower cost.

The problem never existed that the repairs on homes were expensive or that we didn’t have great vendors that helped. We just wanted to do more for the owners that trust us to take care of the properties.

It was an eye opening experience in what people are prepared to do to do a good job. As we scoured through dozens of resumes, it was crazy how many had misspelled words or a lot of missing data. Some people couldn’t even present a resume but instead would send messages as if it was a text!

Next came the phone interviews. Some people would be polite and present well while others could barely speak. After many false starts, we got to the in person interviews. This was the really interesting part.

This position is entry level but pays well, has 401k with employer match, cell phone allowance, clothing allowance, health care, bonuses and company vehicle. People were showing up late or unprepared. Some were dressed like they were getting ready to mow the yard. Shirts untucked and dirty pants where not unusual by this point. After many candidates though we found one whose appearance, demeanor and work ethic really shined through.

We will be introducing him shortly but what really stuck with me was that he had a desire to get things done right and understood our philosophy. We are being trusted to manage properties to the best of our abilities and he wanted to be part of it. At the end of the day it was simple. Show up when it is time to and work like your name is attached to it because it is. 

We are proud to strive to be an outstanding Property Management firm in San Antonio and take the steps needed to help our property owners save money and maintain their properties. Look for more ways we protect our owners coming soon!

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San Antonio Property Management Blog

Following the Scout Motto
It goes without saying that being involved in Scouting as a youth played an important role in my upbringing. I learned the Scout Motto &ldqu...
Veterans Day rememberance
Today I wanted to simply say Thank you to all those that have served our country! Whether you are Active Duty or have retired, your sacrific...
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