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Archive for December, 2013

Changes to the New Smoke Detector Law – By Michael A. Brennan, Attorney

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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UPDATE:  Recently, I wrote an article on the new laws going into effect on January 1, 2014 concerning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The article created [...]

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10 Easy Ways to Spruce Up Your Rental or Rehab – by Attorney William Bronchick, Attorney, legalwiz.com

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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It’s easy to fix up your properties if you have unlimited cash. However, you need to keep your repairs to a minimum to stay profitable. You also need to keep your properties [...]

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How to Lease an Apartment That Isn’t Rent-Ready – by Joyce Kirby

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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While market conditions continue to fluctuate, there may be times when you find yourself in a situation where you have no apartments to show.  Maybe you don’t have a model or the one you have is “out of commission” or you are in a “make ready” process with the vacant apartments that are available.  Recently, I was asked the following question:

Question:  I know I shouldn’t show an apartment that isn’t ready, but I hate to ask someone to come back.  I’m concerned they won’t make the time to come out a second time.  What can I do?
Answer:  First of all, you do not have to show an apartment in order to rent one.  While many people are “visual” and having a model or vacant apartment to show is a tremendous tool, it is not the only tool.  Following are some comments from a shopping report in which the leasing consultant did not have anything to show.

With a diagram of the two bedroom, the consultant “walked me through” the apartment as though we were inside.  She used the terms “you” and “yours” during the entire “virtual” tour.  She pointed out the various storage areas, using the floor plan and she even showed me the shelf and cabinet over the washer and dryer.  The consultant used descriptive words like “oak cabinetry” and “counter with breakfast bar.”  She mentioned the wood-burning fireplace and also the vaulted ceilings.  She then pointed where the fireplace is located and indicated where the ceiling begins to get higher.  The consultant made sure I understood the lay out of each room and helped me visualize what type of furniture would fit in each area.  When I questioned her about the location of the electrical outlets and phone jacks, she was able to help me pick out the best place for my computer.

When the apartment “presentation” was completed, the consultant walked me over to the location of the upcoming apartment.  She pointed out and described the amenities we saw along the way and discussed the proximity of each one to the location of my apartment.  She made sure I understood where I could park as well as my guests.  When we were outside the apartment, the consultant pointed out the other advantages of this particular location.  She drew my attention to the private patio, nearby fountain and lush landscaping.  She also mentioned the quiet, friendly neighbors who live upstairs and next door.

Once the leasing consultant confirmed that I was pleased with what I had learned about the apartment and community, she asked if I would like to put a hold on the apartment until it was ready for me to view.  When I declined, she told me that she understood my hesitation since I had not actually seen the apartment.  However, she reminded me that it was the only one she had coming available and that without a deposit, she would not hold it for me.

When I continued to hesitate, the consultant told me that my deposit would be fully refundable if I did not like the apartment once I saw it.

As you can see from the example above, having no apartments to show did not hamper that leasing consultant’s ability to sell AND close the sale!  In fact, it was quite the opposite – with no apartment to show, this leasing person became even more creative in selling her product as she was forced to describe the apartment in order for her prospect to visualize what she was talking about.  Sometimes a client will get MORE detailed information in these situations, not less.

Remember:  You only get ONE chance to make a good first impression.  Selling what you have to offer, even if you can’t show it will increase your leasing ratio.  Rather than demonstrating a dirty apartment or asking prospective renters to come back, put your product knowledge to the test – give a thorough presentation with whatever sales tools you have at your disposal and then close the sale.  

Joyce Kirby is with Shoptalk Service Evaluations, “Ask the Secret Shopper” and may be reached at joyce@shoptalkservice.com  or by visiting www.shoptalkservice.com.   Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 

 

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The Case of the Noisy Baby – By Zachary Lawrence J.D.

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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Comedian Jerry Seinfeld compared babies to an electric blender, filled with food, turned on full power and without the lid!  Having raised two children, I confirm [...]

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California Landlording Quiz – Will You Pass or Will You Pay? – By Patricia A. Harris

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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The Californialandlording quiz below is based on laws and landlording rules that should already be or become a part of your management procedures.  The purpose of the quiz is to keep [...]

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Tenant Hardship Exemptions for Capital Improvement Pass-throughs Made Easier – By Peter Reitz

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisors David Chiu and Jane Kim recently introduced legislation meant to simplify and provide standards for residential tenant hardship [...]

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11 Mistakes Inexperienced Landlords Make – By Katie Adams

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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With the housing market collapse, many investors who have been fortunate enough to preserve their cash or maintain access to credit are snapping up incredible deals on residential properties to [...]

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Economic Trends – By Gary Halbert

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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Economy Gaining Ground or Treading Water?

Recent economic reports continue to be mixed overall, which argues that this lackluster recovery will continue to disappoint. However, some forecasters are feeling a little more upbeat in the last few weeks. Here are a couple of reasons why. First, there are hopeful signs that consumer spending could improve in the months ahead. Retail sales in June rose a solid 0.6% which led to some optimism about the rest of this year.

Yet the retail sales report for July released on August 13th showed a net gain of only 0.2% which was disappointing. However, if we look at “core” retail sales – minus auto sales and gasoline sales – the July number came in at a respectable +0.5%. This plus the sales report for June led some forecasters to increase their estimates on consumer spending in the third quarter to 2.5%.

That tidbit of optimism brings us to the second quarter GDP estimate which is widely expected to be revised higher. In the “advance” report in late July, the government estimated that the economy expanded at an annual rate of only 1.7% in the second quarter. But based on additional data since that time, the pre-report consensus now suggests that the second estimate will be revised upward to 2.1%. That’s encouraging, I suppose, but it’s not a suggestion that the economy is really on the mend.

 

America is Becoming a “Part-Time Nation”

Part-time work accounted for a whopping 77% of the jobs the US economy created from January through July this year, according to household survey data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specifically, this data showed that the US economy has created 953,000 jobs so far in 2013. Of that sum, 731,000 were part-time jobs versus only 222,000 (23%) full-time jobs.

So how does this compare to the same period last year? Based on the same survey, from January to July 2012, the USeconomy created 1.4 million jobs. Of that sum, 764,000 (53%) were part-time jobs versus 658,000 (47%) full-time jobs. So not only are we producing fewer new jobs this year, over three-quarters of them (77%) were part-time jobs.

President Obama likes to brag that the USeconomy has been adding on average 200,000 jobs a month, and that was true in the first seven months of 2012. But this year through July, that number has plunged to only 136,000 new jobs a month on average, with three out of four being part-time work. Worst of all, most part-time jobs are in the low paying retail world, such as food services/bars, hospitality, temporary staffing firms, home health care, etc. Economists cite these low-paying jobs as the main reason why median household income continues to decline.

A rising number of companies are citing healthcare reform as the reason for the growing part-time workforce. The new healthcare law defines a full-time worker as one who works on average 30 or more hours per week. Those workers must be given healthcare coverage or the employer faces government fines and penalties.

And no one knows what healthcare coverage will cost employers when Obamacare is fully implemented over the next two years. As a result, the USworkforce is rapidly restructuring toward “29-ers” – employees working just under that 30-hour full-time threshold. In addition, an estimated 1,200 companies and a growing number of unions have either sought or won temporary waivers from the new healthcare mandates.

GOP members of theHouse Waysand Means Committee report that since January 2009 the country has added seven times more part-time jobs versus full time jobs. TheUSnow has a historically low labor force participation rate, with 116.1 million full-time workers and a record 28.2 million part-time workers.

The rise in the part-time workforce is a significant reason whyUSworker pay and median income has dropped since the Great Recession ended in June 2009. That trend held up again in the July unemployment report.

US employment trends are a warning, as the US has a retiree population growing faster than its working population, a pattern former President BillClinton noted when he said the Baby Boom was about to become a “Senior Boom in his 1999 State of the Union address.

Leading economists have warned that theUSeconomy has been restructuring since the 1980s away from higher paying jobs into lower-paid service industry jobs, in restaurants, retail, lodging, entertainment, education, etc. With lower median incomes in these fields, this puts a drag on GDP growth since consumer spending is approximately 70% of theUSeconomy.

Government data shows that retailers, restaurants and bars delivered more than half of July’s job gain. These low-paying industries account for 39% of theUSworkforce, according to government data analyzed by Moody’s Analytics. Moody’s also notes that mid-level jobs have contributed just 22% of job creation so far in 2013.

Companies are also relying increasingly on technology or outsourcing to low-wage Asian countries to replace US workers in order to lower costs and boost their bottom lines. Restaurant, hotel, retail, and home health care jobs typically can’t be exported, and this is another reason that more of the new jobs created are in these low-paying fields.

Welcome to Part-Time America, a trend that has been exploding since 2009.

[Note:  According to a recent article, UPS announced that they will end health insurance coverage of employee’s spouses, if they can get coverage elsewhere – a result of Obamacare.  In a memo put out to their employees, UPS said that increased medical costs, combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to employees at an affordable cost. UPS estimates that this will affect an estimated 15,000 working spouses at the company but will save them about $60 million dollars a year. A growing list of other large companies are following suit. ]

Welfare Pays More Than Work – Revisited

A new study found that in at least 35 states, a person on welfare can get more cash benefits than a person who works 40 hours a week at the minimum wage. In some states, a whole lot more than the minimum wage.

That study has drawn quite a bit of attention, as well it should. Many who read the study’s conclusions reacted by saying that the poor are simply lazy, stupid or both. I find such generalizations offensive. Admittedly, there are some poor people who are lazy and/or stupid, but there are some well-off and even rich people who are also lazy or stupid or both. Yet I would argue that the reason there are more people on welfare today than ever before is much more simple than blaming it on stereotypes. I boil it down to this:  If you pay people more not to work than they can earn at a job, many won’t work.

The question is, how did we get to this point? Let’s go back and see how a successful program went so wrong. Back in 1996, a Republican House led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, working with Democratic President Clinton, helped enact genuine welfare reform that included three main elements, the most important of which was the “work requirement.” Within five years of the law’s implementation, stagnant welfare rolls were cut by half, employment among low-income Americans soared and child poverty rates plummeted.

The 1996 law turned the federal welfare program into state block grants under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and for a while it worked very well. A safety net was provided for those truly unable to work or lacking basic skills, but the able-bodied were incentivized to seek work and most found that getting up and going to work each day could be rewarding in both self-esteem and remuneration.

Enter the Obama administration and the beginning of the “fundamental transformation” of America, with its emphasis on redistribution of – rather than the creation of – wealth. Once again, the poor were told they were poor because the rich had taken their money and had rigged the zero-sum game to their advantage. We were soon on our way to becoming a “food-stamp nation.”

Matters were made worse in July 2012, when the Obama administration released a directive from the Department of Health and Human Services announcing that states would be able to waive the law’s work requirements. The requirement that able-bodied adults work, prepare for work or look for work in order to receive benefits was deemed too much of a burden for some states and the poor to bear.

So what we have is a colossal double-whammy. President Obama creates an economy with a disincentive to create new jobs due to taxes, regulations and ObamaCare. And at the same time, he waives the work requirement to qualify for welfare benefits. In essence, “Don’t worry about those nasty work requirements, the government will take care of you.” This is how we got to a record number of Americans on welfare, with many in at least 35 states making more than (some a lot more than) a full-time job paying minimum wage. I could go on for hours on this subject, but I had better leave it there for now.

Holiday Spending Plans May Not be Affected by Shutdown

Economic forecasters have worried that the government shutdown and the debt ceiling battle might cause consumers to pull in their horns this holiday season. But maybe not, so says the latest annual survey by Gallup. Americans, on average, expect to spend $786 on Christmas gifts this year, which is actually a little more than in each of the past two years.

Nearly nine in 10USadults say they will spend some amount of money this year on Christmas gifts. Some 30% plan to spend at least $1,000 this year, and half plan to spend at least $500. Only 3% intend to spend less than $100, according toGallup.

Gallupis one of the most respected pollsters out there, and the latest poll may prove to be correct. Yet I am going out on a limb to predict that holiday shopping this year will be worse than expected. Why? The latest implosion in consumer confidence is very significant, as is the huge drop in non-seasonally adjusted September retail sales.

Gary D. Halbert is the president and chairman of Profutures, Inc.  Subscription rates for Forecasts & Trends is $197 for 12 issues and may be obtained by visiting his website at www.profutures.com.

 

 

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Legal Q & A – by Richard Beckman, Attorney

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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Question 1: We just received a judgment against our former tenants as a result of an Unlawful Detainer.  How do we get this information recorded on their credit report?
Answer 1: Judgments are generally [...]

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New San Francisco Smoke Free Disclosure Policy is Now in Effect – San Francisco Tobacco Free Project

Posted on 01. Dec, 2013 by .

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Attention All Multifamily Property Owners:  The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently amended the San Francisco Health Code by [...]

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