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San Antonio Property Management Blog

What the new normal looks like

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Now that we are settling into a more "normal" rhythm of work and home life blended, we can look back over the last few weeks and see what the true impact has been to property management in San Antonio and across the country. We are participating in many national conference calls through the National Association of Residential Property Managers and we are seeing a trend.

In most cases 88-92% of tenants of residential rental property tenants were able to pay their rent on time. The remaining either paid their rent within a few days or were able to make partial payments. As of the date of this blog, most management companies are off by about 5% from total collection of rents. Those outstanding rents are most likely going to be paid this month according to most survey respondents.

The true test will be what May looks like for renters. With stimulus checks arriving now and some people starting to receive unemployment benefits, it looks like there is some stabilization in the economy for now. Hardest hit were those residing in apartments. The National Apartment Association is reporting that only 70% of tenants were able to pay on time. 

As for housing values, those are expected to remain strong. We were already in a housing shortage and interest rates remain low. Even for those forecasting increased foreclosure rates in 6 months, that is not be accompanied with a forecast for a dip in housing values. 

For now, stay safe and we will update everyone as we learn more.

Virus survivial

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A lot has changed from just a couple weeks ago. Bexar County will enter a 10 day shut down to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 and many are struggling to to find clarity in this situation. Many are asking how will I pay my bills? How will I be able to feed my family with shortages at the stores? What if I get sick? What if one of my loved one's gets sick?

No one has the answers we are looking for right now. As a small business owner I try to make sure our employees are doing ok, that our tenants are ok and that the owners that we work with are ok. All I can do is simply reach out and communicate. But given this imposed slow down, that may be one of the most necessary parts of surviving the pandemic. To simply communicate. 

I could tell you about our policy adjustments and programs we are trying to launch but in the end, people need to know they will get through this. Take the time to call a loved one. Allow yourself to enjoy your family. Take this time to look inward and determine that if you wanted to change your life, what would it look like.

I am no self help guru to be certain. Just sometimes from events like this, we need to take from them what we can and move forward. To be sure, this is not a fun time for anyone. People are understandably stressed about things over which they have no control. Just breath, and think about what life will looks like after this passes. And simply communicate. Be safe and take care of yourself and look forward to getting through this will all of you.

Another Renter's Commission meeting update

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Yesterday another Renter's Commission Subcommittee Meeting was held at City Hall. This time they presented the responses from the previous meeting which I covered in the previous blog. It was surprising or maybe not so much to see how the subcommittee presented the findings. 

The goal of the of the Renter's Commission per the committee is to increase renter representation  on City Boards and Commissions. It is also the goal per the committee to elevate renter's issues in citywide discussions. Examples of other commissions presented included Seattle, WA, Portland OR and San Francisco, CA. This time the committee however did acknowledge that within the San Antonio Housing Commission which already exists there is a similar committee performing similar roles with 2 of 5 seats held by renters.

As the meeting continued prior to additional comment, it was determined that there were 3 other committees operating within the city through which they could already assign oversight. What was most concerning was the committee's presentation of previous meetings (Jan 22, 2020) public comments.

Remember that I said only 1 tenant had been present to speak up versus dozens of landlords, property managers, Realtors, etc. Here is how that was translated:

-Desires for better representation of renters

-Desires for more "pro-renter" policies

-Desires for a mix of renters, landlords and others to be part of a possible Renters Commission

-Concerns about Seattle model and the recommendations from that commission

So even though only 1 person spoke to the first 2 items, that weighed heavily on this presentation. Afterwards it was time for public comment and again it was all landlords, property manager, Realtors, etc. This is not a fight that we will stop engaging in until our voices are heard. Tenants desire fair treatment and decent housing but not at the exclusion of landlord rights as well. 

It appears that the Housing Committee is looking t o create this commission but we will continue to be your voice. I will keep you posted on developments and let you know how we are doing.

Resident Commission for City of San Antonio Update

Monday, January 27, 2020

I had an opportunity to speak last week with a city council proposed commission that is investigating the need to to establish a Renters Commission in order to put protections in place for residents in San Antonio. At this hearing, other property managers, Realtors, the president of the local board of Realtors, landlords and attorneys that represent landlords all spoke. It was a full house with comments limited to 2 minutes for each speaker. Public comments went on for over an hour. Out of all the speakers, only 1 was a tenant and one other was a proponent of the possible commission.

The concern on behalf of those involved in managing and owning properties is that this commission was proposed to be made up solely of the tenants and initial reports were that this may be modeled after commission established in Seattle. Here are some of the Seattle Renters Commission Policies that were implemented there:

-No evictions can be filed in winter months (November through March) to help prevent homelessness.

-Rent Control so that you cannot arbitrarily raise rents

-You cannot consider an eviction that is older than 3 years 

-You have to accept the first app in that meets the minimum standards. You could not compare multiple applications to get the best applicant possible.

Because of our organizations like the National Association of Property Managers and the Texas Association of Realtors, we are able to mobilize to make our voices heard. Besides just taking care of the maintenance issues, finding tenants, collecting the rent and the other day to day responsibilities, it is also my job to make sure your voice is heard as a landlord.

From the lone tenant and other proponent, it became clear what people often think about landlords. That we have a lot of power and money and don't care about anyone else. All property managers believe all parties should be treated fairly. Happy tenants pay rent ontime and take care of the property. Happy landlords make sure properties are well taken care of and are nice for the tenant. We work to create a win-win situation. In further discussion, it became clear that if a commission was formed, all we want is a seat at the table so your voice can be heard.

In the end, no commission was formed although the city council will continue with additional due diligence. We will stay in front of this subject and look forward to updating you in the future!

Happy New Year now let's get time to business

Monday, January 6, 2020

We hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Now that everyone is getting back into a normal schedule, it is time to think about what you want to achieve for 2020. For us, that means looking to improve our property management systems so that we are more efficient. We want to ensure that our property management services focus on not only property maintenance but also property enhancement.

Property enhancement? We have come to recognize that by taking care of the simple stuff on a periodic basis, we set the stage for how the home will be treated but also helps improve the overall appearance and value. Simple items include light tree trimming (keeps the trees off the roof), changing out aerators (helps avoid plumbing repairs), painting the front doors a nice contracting color ( gives your home character and improves curb appeal) and more. 

We are investigating a new subscription method as well so that air filters are delivered to the home on a monthly basis so we can ensure filters are being changed out. This would be a tenant expense so we are doing our due diligence to be respectful of budgets but so far the feedback we have gotten has been positive.

We are also looking at marketing exposure. We continue to lease properties quickly because of our focus on using pro photos for marketing. We also are still showing 7 days a week and evenings to increase our chances of finding a great tenant. As of this blog, we have one vacant unit but are averaging a showing a day. Not bad for the first week of January.

Overall, we are excited about the opportunities for 2020 and will keep you posted on the progress!

Planning for 2020

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

It seems like 2019 has flown by. With only a few weeks left in the year, we are taking this time to plan more effectively for 2020. Besides looking at what went right and how we reached certain goals, we also want to find out where we failed and why.

By looking at our failures, I have often found that I get more long term results than just celebrating the wins. Like the old Thomas Edison saying, he didn’t fail hundreds of times in trying to perfect the light bulb, he simply figured out the all the ways the light bulb wouldn’t work. In learning from his mistakes, he eventually developed a product that remained relatively unchanged for a century.

In reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear this past couple of weeks, the take away is to look at your mistakes and make incremental changes to succeed. There rarely is one giant moment where everything pivots but most likely the sum of many small changes.

For our San Antonio property management company, the other challenge as highlighted by Clear is to develop consistent systems. When processes follow a consistent system, it is much more likely to yield positive predictable results. Much like our screening process, we do not deviate from our standards because those results are almost always positive. 

Some of our next goals are to make our systems more water tight. In respect to our inspections, move ins and marketing, we could still stand some improvement. That is where our systems come into play. We use Asana for project management and Evernote as well plus Google Drive but there is always room for improvement. When you start with improving the system that in turns leads you to hitting your weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual goals. Best of luck in your 2020 planning and putting those systems in place.

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!

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San Antonio Property Management Blog

What the new normal looks like
Now that we are settling into a more "normal" rhythm of work and home life blended, we can look back over the last few weeks and s...
Virus survivial
A lot has changed from just a couple weeks ago. Bexar County will enter a 10 day shut down to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 and many a...
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