Saratoga, California is located at base of majestic redwood forest forming the locally known Saratoga Gap on the northeastern and eastern slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ohlone Indians occupied this territory during their heyday as evidenced by artifacts and tools found in these foothills. Ordered by the Spanish government in 1776 Juan Bautista de Anza also travelled through Saratoga on his way to the Monterey Bay. Half a century later a large land grant to Jose Noriega and Jose Fernandez of the land area which today is known as Cupertino, Campbell, and Saratoga was consummated. Later Manuel Alviso bought this parcel and renamed the “ranch” Rancho Quito. The early beginnings of this little town gave no clue what it would someday become. Who knew this sleepy little village would someday become the home of some of Silicon Valley’s most famous business people?
When you’re thinking about advantages and disadvantages of owning a rental property, it’s easy to narrow the thinking down to the equation of rental income minus expenses equals your profit. This is a basic formula to start with, but there are so many different factors and variables that go into making it more complex than it seems. Many rental property owners don’t realize how much of their own time and effort is required for upkeep, taking tenant calls, collecting rent, enforcing leases and more. This brings us to the point of whether it’s worth the investment of your own time to handle these duties, or if paying a property management company to handle them for you is the way to go. Everyone views these perspectives differently but getting an overall understanding of both sides will help you make the decision that fits your lifestyle best. Finally, most people I meet don’t realize there are actually four (4) different ways to make money in rental properties – spending your time managing the property might not always be in your best interests.
For some people, owning a rental property can seem like a dream scenario. For others, it may seem like a nightmare they’ll never wake up from. It’s only natural to have mixed feelings about owning a rental property, since there are so many different pros and cons to think about. Even when you take the time to weigh them all out, it can still seem like there are just as many risks as there are rewards. Most of the time, a person’s experience owning a rental property won’t be a complete dream scenario where there aren’t any issues and the rent checks just keep flowing in. But the experience won’t be a complete nightmare either. It will be somewhere in between. There will be plenty of ups and downs, things you can plan for and things you get blindsided by. Everyone has a different risk tolerance, so making a list of the pros and cons of owning a rental property can help you decide whether the risks are worth the rewards for you.
I rarely use the “M” word because I’m not an industrial hygienist or a laboratory. However, mold is commonly talked about in the real estate world and is everywhere – that simple fact doesn’t take away from the seriousness of it. A mold infestation or contamination can be extremely damaging to a property and to investment property managers. Not only does mold put your tenants/residents at risk, but you and the property owner may have to spend a significant amount of time and money to properly mitigate the environmental condition and make the rental unit a safe and comfortable place to live. Moreover, mold creates a significant stigma on a property which most certainly attaches and affects value and desirability. In addition to educating yourself about mold, one of the best things you can do is focus on the common areas (bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms) where mold grows and do your best to prevent it by keeping these rooms, walls, ceilings as dry as possible. However, if mold/mildew growth is already there, it’s time to take care of it before the issue becomes more serious. Remember, a property manager and/or landlord’s primary duty is to provide a habitable rental unit – a unit with mold is not habitable.
After performing a comprehensive and exhaustive analysis and identifying realty as your next investment, one of the most important tasks real property investors can do before pursuing an investment strategy is to determine the risks associated with it. It’s virtually impossible to completely avoid risks so the more you can understand about your investment by conducting due diligence, the more you learn about your risk strategy and mitigation options, the better your chances will be of making a successful and profitable investment. Doing homework, asking many questions, and performing comprehensive investigations are just some of the things that needs to be done before you pull the trigger. Just winging it is not a strategy.
Due to external factors such as significant capital gains tax exposure many people are choosing to rent out their homes versus selling. The more forwarding-thinking people are employing a strategy where they rent their property for two years or so, then sell their property (maintaining their IRC 121 & 1031 benefits) and exchange into another more potent cash cow. After all, in California a real property sale can trigger a 38% tax hit the following April due to capital gains issues – assuming one’s gains are greater than the IRC 121 exemption of $250,000 for a single person or $500,000 for married couples. Thus, many people are renting by themselves or through a property management company to preserve their tax efficient options. Below is a quick hit list of easy and inexpensive design ideas which may help you separate yourself from your competitors who have also listed their homes on the rental market. Importantly these improvements and/or expenses are either tax deductible against rental income or depreciable.
Green technology is the wave of the future, not just in Silicon Valley, but across the globe as well and we can all play a part in improving the environment by utilizing alternative means for generating electricity. As each individual makes an investment into global preservation by making the decision to include solar panels on their investment properties, or any alternative energy method, they have enforced the greater good principle which we should all consider during our time here on earth. This especially includes those of us who are lucky enough to own real property improved with structures. Non-owner occupied property owners are increasingly considering solar energy into their property management plans and for good reason.
If you wish to live or invest in real estate near downtown Mountain View, but not exactly in downtown, look no further. Until 1994, Shoreline West was considered to be part of downtown Mountain View. Residents banded together and won approval to form a stand-alone community with its own identity. The resulting Shoreline West enclave is known for its unbeatable location, welcoming and friendly residents, block parties, potlucks and annual special events that foster a sense of community.
The pleasantly quirky Slater neighborhood was built in the middle 1950s and is known for its diverse residential makeup and unique and varied architectural styles. When you live in Slater, your neighbors will be Google execs, young families and retirees who are the original owners of their homes. As you stroll along the wide, tree-lined streets, you will pass brick duplexes decorated with wagon wheels and charming bungalows reminiscent of farm houses. If you are looking for a distinctive non-cookie cutter community that is minutes from downtown, make sure to consider investing in Slater real estate.
With today’s ever-changing IT environment of ransomware and viruses, of security breaches and ever-increasing threats to your personal and business data, it is more important than ever to have a professional and reliable data backup system in place. However, it is no longer good enough to just have a local backup solution that copies all your data to a hard drive connected to your computer. Ransomware will, during infection, not only encrypt your data but any drive connected to that computer. It will also try to infect any network shares on your local network. Another problem with a local backup is preparing for disaster recovery. As we have seen very recently with the fires in Marin, everything can be destroyed, including your backups if they are kept in the same building as your computers.