Events Calendar: August and September 2013

Events CalendarCan you believe it’s August already? This summer is flying by; Labor Day will be here before we know it! Looks like it’s time again to check in on the rental real estate events being held over the next couple of months. Maybe we’ll see you there…

August 14th | WMFHA’s 2nd Annual Reverse Trade Show

This show runs from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Cedarbrook Lodge, in Seattle. You may be wondering what a “reverse trade show” actually is. We would describe it as a little bit like speed dating for suppliers. From WMFHA’s site: “Property management representatives will be assigned a private table, and will have a booklet of supplier bios provided to you. During allotted slots of time throughout the afternoon, suppliers will tour your table and will be answering your questions and providing information about their services for you.” Sound like fun? Check it out here.

August 15th | The RHA presents: Getting to the Top with 1031 Exchanges

This seminar runs from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the RHA office in Seattle; registration costs $45.00. Lead by Dennis Helmick, the seminar will cover everything you need to know about 1031 Exchanges–multi- and single-family investors won’t want to miss it. Wondering whether you should do an exchange? Worried about home sale exclusion rules? Then this one’s for you. Check it out here.

August 20th | WMFHA’s Budget & Financial Management Seminar

This seminar runs from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the WMFHA Training Center in Tukwila; registration costs $59 ($79 for non-members). Presented by WMFHA board member and Senior Regional Supervisor of Fairfield Residential, Brett Stevens, this crash-course in budgeting and financial management will cover the essentials of property management budgeting. Among other things, you’ll cover the major acronyms (ROI, IRR, NOI) and learn the best ways to analyze cash flow–sign us up! Check it out here.

August 29th | The RHA’s Landlord 101

This seminar will run from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the RHA office in Seattle; registration costs $45 ($65 to earn CRE clock hours). If you’re new to the landlording gig, or looking for a refresher to cover basics you might have missed, this seminar will give you the tools to become an effective landlord, including the basics of Landlord-Tenant Law, ways to attract and keep the right tenants, and tips for improving your bottom line. Check it out here.

September 4th | King-South Meeting of the Washington Landlord Association

Dinner will begin at 6:15, with the program beginning at 7:00 p.m., at Mitzel’s American Kitchen in Kent. Have you checked out the Washington Landlord Association? It’s a great resource for networking, education, and other services. Not sure if you’d like to join? Stop by a meeting and see what you’re missing. The next King-South meeting will feature Tim Seth and John Wells of the WLA, presenting a “Field Brief on Human Rights.” Check it out here.

September 19th | The RHA Presents: How to Read a Credit Report

This seminar will run from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at the RHA’s office in Seattle. Registration is free. There’s no question that it’s vital to perform credit checks on potential tenants; but are you sure you’re reading the credit reports you receive in a valuable way? In this seminar, the RHA Director of Tenant Screening, Megan McCormick, will break down RHA credit reports step-by-step, answering questions as they come up. Check it out here.

September 26th | WMFHA’s Apartment Outlook: Perspectives and Projections for 2014

This event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Seattle Sheraton. Registration is $89 ($109 for non-members). Mark your calendars for September’s annual big event from WMFHA, the Washington Apartment Outlook (WAO)! This seventh-annual event will cover all of the latest information on economic trends concerning the multifamily industry; whether you’re a landlord, a supplier or even a lender, you’re going to want to be there. Matthew Gardner and Mike Scott will be among those presenting on the economic forecast and industry trends. Check it out here.

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Ten Days of Buzz: June 9-18, 2013

Ten Days of Buzz

“Renting out your property is a business venture and, with most business ventures, there may be significant tax consequences…There may also be tax deductions available, including interest from a mortgage payment, depreciation, repairs, and travel to the property, along with possible home office space deductions.”

Victoria Dalton, Elder law attorney. Your Legal Corner: Becoming a landlord, NJ.com, 6/9/13.

“Annualizing this year’s [apartment sales] volume suggests total 2013 sales activity will be close to $2.1 billion. Last year started out slower, but ended up with almost $2.7 billion of sales activity.” 

Dupre and Scott of DupreScott.com. Apartment Advisor: Investment in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, DupreScott.com, 6/10/13.

“As the inventory is shrinking a lot of the private rentals owners are choosing to actually sell instead of continuing to lease out the property. So that’s also taking away from the inventory.”

Ashley Hayes of Seattle Rental Group. Seattle rental market increasingly competitive and expensive, King5.com, 6/11/13.

“Higher prices are reducing returns on investment, and investors are responding by cutting back on their purchasing plans until conditions sort out.”

Chris Clothier of Premier Property Management Group. Investors Backing Out of ‘REO-to-Rent’ Market, AOL Real Estate, 6/12/13.

“We’re told it took two years to transform this space from a shell to a showplace, featuring the most exquisite materials from around the world (the flooring, for instance, is mahogany, teak and onyx, depending on which district you’re in.)”

Josh Green of On the Market. At $15k Per Month, Behold Atlanta’s Priciest Rental, Curbed.com, 6/13/13.

“Sales volume has been climbing steadily for three years. There still are not as many sales each month as there were a dozen years ago, but investor activity is getting closer. And it shows a tremendous spike in sales last December, driven by capital gains tax changes taking effect in 2013.”

Mike Scott of DupreScott.com. Firewalking is Easier, Dupre + Scott’s Weekly Video Updates, 6/14/13.

“I don’t think we’ve solved the problem as a whole, but what we’ve done is send a very strong message to the real estate industry that this is still a tenant city.”

Sarah Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. S.F. tenants win a battle over rental conversions, Los Angeles Times, 6/15/13.

“[Back in the 1930s,] there were my grandparents upstairs, my aunt Elsie on the front veranda, which was closed in, and my parents, Florence and Alfred, in the front room.”

Norma, an 80 year old who has lived in the same rented apartment all her life. Family rents home for 85 years, PerthNow Real Estate, 6/17/13.

“HUD has taken historic steps in the area of fair housing to ensure that we fulfill our nation’s commitment to equality. As this study shows, we need to continue our efforts to ensure that everyone is treated the same when it comes to finding a home to call their own.”

Shaun Donovan, HUD Secretary. HUD Study Finds Same-Sex Discrimination in Rental Housing Market, USNews.com, 6/18/13.

 

Ten Days of Buzz: March 18-28, 2013

Ten Days of Buzz

“Investors are buying homes, in part, to rent them out, and that has added a lot of rental supply, and that’s preventing rents from rising.”

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist for Trulia. Rentals slowing down as housing market picks up, Bloomberg News, 3.18.13.

“We have seen it for several years now: foreclosure sales…have become the hunting grounds for investors with two goals: hanging on to these homes until the Fed’s flood of money drives up their value; and defraying the expenses of ownership by renting them out. And funds have a third goal: collecting management fees.”

Wolf Richter of Business Insider. A New and Different Housing Bubble is Taking Shape, BusinessInsider.com, 3.19.13.

“We do want to support this, but at $80 to $100 rent increase per month, I’m worried that will cause displacement.”

Sara Shortt of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. Tenants Say Earthquake Retrofit Law Could Circumvent Rent Control, The San Francisco Public Press, 3.20.13.

“When some of the jobs started coming back, there was a pent-up shortage of rent increases, and everybody took their jumps as quickly as they could.”

Mark Skelte of Western Realty Advisors. Rental Market Madness, Portland Monthly Magazine, 3.22.13.

“Nearly 20 million American households nationwide spend more than half of their income on housing—a severe burden that leaves many with little left over to meet their basic food, clothing, health care, and education needs.”

Jeffrey Lubell, Executive Director of the Center for Housing Policy. Census Data: Housing Costs Pinching Renters, USNews.com, 3.24.13.

“The cities that capture the mobile, college-educated ‘young and restless’ are the ones who are most likely to revitalize their downtowns and accelerate economic progress in their cities.”

Lee Fisher, president of CEOS for Cities. Downtowns: What’s Behind America’s Most Surprising Real Estate Boom, Forbes.com, 3.25.13.

“New construction rents for more. That distorts rent trends. Excluding the new units that opened in the past year, rents still posted a healthy 3.7 percent increase (in the region).”

Dupre + Scott in the latest issue of Apartment Advisor, as quoted by the Aubrey Cohen of the Seattle PI. Apartments expensive, hard to find in Seattle area, SeattlePI.com, 3.26.13.

“This (boom) seems to be more broad-based, not resulting from one particular industry or trend. It just seems more solid, stable and sustainable.”

Bart Flora, co-president of Cornell & Associates. Seattle apartment market: Good times keep on rolling, Daily Journal of Commerce, 3.27.13.

“I moved home because I wanted to figure out what direction I wanted to take in life. It was a very, very hard time for people my age. But I’m very excited about the move [into my own apartment]. Most of my friends are starting to move downtown as well. For a lot of us, adult life is just starting a little later.”

Nicole Shlass, 25 year-old “echo boomer.” Echo kids moving out of parents’ homes fuel high rental market, Metro News Canada, 3.28.13.

Five Ways to…Be a More Effective Landlord

Five Ways To

Ahh, a fresh new year. There’s definitely something about the appeal of new beginnings that we just can’t resist come January 1st. Even before we finished singing Auld Lang Syne at midnight, we were making resolutions–and more than just a few of us were resolving to be more effective in our careers.

So if you’re a landlord or property manager, what does that look like–and how can it be achieved? We’ve put together our top five ways to be a more effective landlord, from experts across the web. Let’s make 2013 a year to remember!

2013

1. Embrace the three “F words:” Be friendly, fair, and firm.

Any tenant will tell you that an unfriendly landlord is about as fun as a leaky ceiling; at the same time, if you try too hard to be friendly and end up being over-permissive, chaos can ensue. It’s vital that a landlord develop good relationships with tenants, of course—but in the world of property management, the customer isn’t necessarily always right.

Balance is key; and that’s where the three F’s come in: If can maintain a friendly relationship with tenants, while also being firm when necessary—and as fair as you possibly can be—you’ll be well on your way to harmony, both in and out of the building. This tip came from BiggerPockets.com; read the article here.

2. Foster a sense of community in your buildings.

As the housing paradigm in the United States has shifted from owning to renting, many of us have learned to invest more fully in the rental communities we live in. Renters are no longer simply counting the days until they can buy a house; instead, they are looking for a rental community that will feel like home.

As The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Landlords puts it, “Creating a sense of belonging means more tenant referrals, better retention, and fewer complaints.”  That’s why to the best landlords, every building—even those with just a few units—is more than a building: it’s a miniature neighborhood, a coherent group with its own culture and sense of belonging. Ensuring that community spaces are clean, safe and inviting is a good first step; you may also wish to consider community bulletins and get-togethers.

3. Respect a tenant’s autonomy–and their space.

This tip comes from a rental blog across the pond—but it’s relevant here as well. There can be times, particularly in smaller buildings and when a landlord or property manager lives on site, when the lines of a tenant’s privacy can blur slightly. Don’t forget that, while you may own or manage the units they live in, tenants do have a right to privacy by law. There are instances in which a landlord may enter an occupied unit after reasonable notice—but most of these instances are when emergency situations occur. Generally, landlords should err on the side of caution, and respect that units are their tenants’ homes. Read more here.

4. Document everything–and we mean EVERYTHING.

This tip comes from tvslandlordblog.com, and we couldn’t agree more. All steps of the rental process—from applications to phone calls to notices—should be documented. As much as it can be a pain at the time, documentation will actually make your job easier in the long run; and of course, some of this documentation is required by law. Luckily, there are tools to help you with this (and other) property management tasks…which brings us to tip number five!

5. Use the tech tools that will make your life easier.

When you add up all the jobs a landlord or property manager really has to do—advertise units, screen applicants, manage staff, respond to and coordinate maintenance and repairs, keep apprised of landlord-tenant law, document interactions with tenants, and more—it’s clear that every landlord wear a lot of hats in any given day.

Luckily, these days there are plenty of tools online to help you tackle many of your tasks. Websites like Reachwerks.com (full disclosure: Reachwerks is Seattle Rental’s sister company) can help you advertise units, archive paperwork electronically, and all measure of other helpful tasks. When used right, technology can be a landlord’s best friend—use it to your advantage!

The Buzz: Haunted House for Sale or Rent

A note before we dive into Halloween fun: stay safe out there, East Coast friends! We’re thinking of you.

Happy Halloween from all of us at Seattle Rentals! If you’re looking for something to do tonight, check out these options from the Seattle Times (scroll down for Wednesday’s offerings). Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more mellow–maybe mix up some Corpse Revivers and Bloody Rum Punches at home? In the meantime, we’ve got an extra-scary edition of The Buzz for you today.

Full replica of Disney’s Haunted Mansion is on the market in Georgia.

Not every contractor has the means to build a full-scale replica of a Disney attraction; but when Mark Hurt was designing his house, he knew exactly what to do. Hurt spent years working for Disney, and had access to the plans for the Haunted Mansion–so he built another one in Duluth for himself and his wife to live in. Now the house is on the market…care to move in to the Haunted Mansion?

If pet cemetery is on your list of must-haves, look no further!

That’s right, this property in Tempe, AZ costs $250,000 and has 4.8 acres, two bedrooms, one bathroom…and one pet cemetery. The first sentence in the listing ad? “SELLER WANTS THIS PROPERTY SOLD.” Hmm, wonder why…could it be the ghost of dachshunds past?

The house where the Amityville Horror was filmed is up for sale, too.

What is it with all of these haunted houses for sale? It’s almost as if the owners wanted to get rid of them for some reason…spooky. The Amityville Horror house is located in Toms River, NJ, and was originally listed at $1.25 million, but is now down to $935,000. It boasts four bedrooms and while the house was used for the movie in 1979, it is not the actual house that the movie was based on, which is located–of course–in Amityville.

And since we like to be scared on Halloween…here are some truly scary listing photos.

Any property manager will tell you: there’s nothing scarier than a terrible listing photo. AOL has a good slideshow of them up right now–check out photo number three for creepy-doll-in-fireplace action perfect for Halloween.

Well, that’s it for us today–did we scare you? Now go enjoy your holiday, and we’ll see you back here Friday with some real news.

The Green Report: Micro-Housing Edition

As rents and the demand for apartments continue to climb, one trend has been popping up a lot in the news lately: micro-units. Call them what you will (apodments, micro-partments, mini-housing), the idea is certainly an intriguing one for landlords and tenants alike–just how much can you charge for a 200-300 square foot apartment, and how many of them will fit in a building? It also scores points for being an ecologically sound model: as we know, higher-density living is almost always greener than suburban life, and smaller spaces naturally take less energy to heat and cool, and can utilize smaller water heaters and other appliances.

From the New York City Mayor’s Office and the New York Times

The idea is so popular that this July, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a competition, sponsored by the city, to design the ultimate (very efficient) 275-300 square foot Manhattan apartment. But just how new is the idea of the micro-apartment? Where are they being built, and exactly how much are tenants (and landlords) welcoming the concept?

The Apartment of the Future?

While no one was blogging about how the micro-unit was the hipster thing to do in 1910, the average apartment in Seattle at that time was less than 500 square feet. After that, the American renting public oscillated over the decades–the 1930s brought the golden age of the Murphy Bed and motel-style kitchens, while the 1950s saw young couples needing more bedrooms for their Boomer children. From then on, the trend was for more space, as the American Dream became about the accumulation of wealth: cars in the garage, record collections…but in this new millennium, the era of physical accumulation has been brought to a screeching halt by one simple concept: the Cloud (see our recent Apartment Advisor recap for more on this).

Essentially, many of this year’s trends add up to a perfect climate for micro-housing. Younger renters want the flexibility of renting; they enjoy shared amenities like fitness areas, dog parks and rooftop decks, but they don’t need much space to store their belongings, since so much of their lives is on their iPhones and Kindles. They are more likely to meet friends in the city for dinner than to entertain at home (the “City as living room” is key to making micro-housing work), and in many cities, micro-housing is truly all they can afford–and it may well fulfill all of their needs.

Micro-Housing Coast to Coast

New York: While many New Yorkers have rented and shared apartments the size of an Ikea futon since long before the term micro-housing was ever coined, the fact is, there simply aren’t enough studios for the number of single people in New York–and most can’t afford the rental prices on a one-bedroom. This NYTimes article profiles several women living in micro-units, including a 170 square-foot West Village walk-up (“here is what Ms. Stolarski’s apartment does not have: a couch; tchotchkes; specks of dirt; paperwork…”) where she stores sweaters in the oven, Carrie-Bradshaw style. As for Mayor Bloomberg’s contest, we’ll be interested to see what the architects come up with; we’ll keep you posted.

Seattle: Even smaller than the apartments profiled in New York, micro-units called apodments have been cropping up in Seattle (Capitol Hill and the U-District, of course). Built by Calhoun Properties, apodments run less than 100 square feet, come “furnished,” and feature no utility or HOA fees–and not everyone is sure what to think of them at this stage in the game (check out this article over at Curbed.com). Rents run between $450 and $700, and kitchens are often shared. With interiors a bit more utilitarian than the studios featured in the New York Times, but also including rooftop decks, mirrored closets and large windows, the apodments concepts begs the question: just how small can an apartment be?

Only time (and the market) will tell if micro-housing catches on in a big way. In the meantime, will you be re-branding your mother-in-law rental a “micro-unit?” Are you selling your furniture on Craigslist right now so you can move in to a smaller space? Weigh in below.

Fall Events Calendar: Energy Benchmarking, Budget Basics and More

Whether you’re just starting out in the business of multifamily housing, or you’re looking to network and continue your education, there are plenty of events for you to check out around the Seattle area this fall. We’e got the breakdown on some of the upcoming events from WMFHA, the RHA, and others organizations, in September and October–maybe we’ll see you there!

September

Seminar: Budget Prep and Financial Management, from WMFHA

  • When: 9/11, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Where: The WMFHA Training Center, 18300 Cascade Ave S, Suite 131, in Tukwila
  • Who: Facilitated by WMFHA’s Executive Director, Jim Wiard, CPM
  • What: Starting at the beginning–a budget? What’s that?–and progressing quickly past the basic elements of a property budget to budget management and accounting terminology, if you need to cover a lot of budget basics without being bored, this is the class for you. Cashflow, avoiding pitfalls, and the Four Ps of Marketing will also be covered.
  • How: The seminar is $59 for members and $79 for non-members; sign up here

Seminar: The Financial Basics of Investment Real Estate, from the RHA

  • When: 9/12, 9:00 -11:00 a.m.
  • Where: The RHA Office, 2414 SW Andover St, Suite D207, in Seattle
  • Who: Presented by Bruce Kahn, CPM
  • What: This seminar will cover the basics of investment real estate financial analysis, including the basic financial indicators that will allow you to make informed decisions when it comes to investing in real estate.
  • How: Seminar costs $45; sign up here.

Conference: Washington Apartment Outlook–Projections for 2013, from WMFHA

  • When: 9/28, 12:30 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Where: The Hyatt Bellevue, 900 Bellevue Way NE, in (you guessed it) Bellevue
  • Who: Presenters include WMFHA Government Affairs Chair, Joe Puckett; Matthew Gardner of Gardner Economics; and Mike Scott of Dupre + Scott.
  • What: Who better to speak about the immediate future of rental housing than these three? Joe Puckett has represented property management companies, developers and owners of residential and commercial properties, while Matthew Gardner heads all residential commercial, economic and litigation support assignments dealing with market evaluation, market positioning, and more. Mike Scott, meanwhile, is one-half of Dupre + Scott fame (Apartment Advisor), whose clients include City of Seattle, City of Tacoma, Seattle Housing Authority, and United States Army.
  • How: $89 for members, $109 for non-members; click here to register.

 

October

Seminar: Solving Problems with Tenants

  • When: 10/10, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: The RHA Office, 2414 SW Andover St, Suite D207, in Seattle
  • Who: Presented by Sue Lewis, CPM
  • What: This seminar will teach you how to keep resident issues from turning into serious conflicts, saving you time and money. Hardships, emergencies, and “bad behavior” will be addressed.
  • How: Registration is $45; click here to register

Class: Landlord & Tenant Law in King County

  • When: 10/11, all day
  • Where: The Washington State Convention Center, at 7th and Pike St., in Seattle
  • What: This day-long seminar covers all aspects of landlord-tenant law, beginning with the rental agreement–what do you need to include to ensure that things go smoothly down the road? Screening tenants while avoiding discrimination, legally executing evictions, and even avoiding lawsuits will be covered.
  • How: Click here for more information

That’s it from us today, but check out even more events at the RHA and WMFHA themselves; we’ll see you back here just after Halloween with our Winter Events Calendar. See you then!