California State Law will enact new low flow toilet, shower, and sink regulations starting January 1, 2017 for all homes built prior to 1994. The important part of this law is that it is NOT a point on sale law. Which means, any pre-1994 home will need to change out plumbing fixtures that are not already implemented with low flow replacements.

California Civil Law 1101.1-1101.9 states the following will need to be addressed to meet new regulations:

• Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
• Any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
• Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute.

As a Real Estate Broker performing management responsibilities for my clients, I will be issuing notices to owners on all our pre-94 properties. Feel Good Property Management will conduct quick inspections on all plumbing fixtures and, if the home is not in compliance, it will be scheduled for new fixtures. If you are a homeowner, you can easily check your home and align yourself with the regulation. If you are a landlord, it may be a good time to do an interior inspection on your rental and make sure you are ready for the new law.

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker

I’ve seen a lot of moving in working in Real Estate Sales & Rentals for over ten years. At Feel Good Property Management and Home Sales we’ve seen a lot of moving in the last year. The majority of our clients are home owners moving out of their personal home – mostly relocating, down-sizing, or growing. While we are helping new residents move into rental homes, we are also helping our home owners relocate.

What do you think of moving? Go ahead, think of the first thing. Unsettling, tiresome, I hate packing… I hate unpacking. Downsizing. Address Changes. Transferring Utilities. Moving Trucks. Storage. Change. New. Adventure!? It’s an endless list.

Whatever words came to mind, positive, negative, or indifferent; here is a quick checklist and helpful tips.

  1. Making the home search easy is a big task but we think the best platforms are ZillowRealtor, and Redfin because of their intuitive user interfaces and depth of information.
  2. Packing supplies can be simply ordered online through Amazon. Pro tip: get free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime. Home Depot and Lowes have great prices on boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, and tape. Truck rental companies often charge the most for these items, so planning in advance will save you money. Did you know you can hire a company to pack for you? Try your local Yelp listings. Read reviews and make sure to check for their insurance coverage for potential loss or damages.
  3. For moving truck rentals or moving companies, you can find recommended companies on Yelp, but make sure to check for liability and damage/loss insurance for any people you hire to move your belongings. There are the traditional rental trucks for across town or cross country. Try U-Haul, Ryder, or Penske where you can calculate costs and reserve your truck online.
  4. Moving day can be the most tiring part of the process. Make sure to get plenty of rest the day before. Prepare an ice chest with plenty of fluids, quick snacks, and stay hydrated. When ordering take out or delivery, make sure you request plates, napkins, and utensils (things that are often packed up). If you haven’t thought of it yet, most people forget to have toilet paper handy at their new house, keep a roll out for the move. Wet wipes are also another great thing to have on hand.
  5. Lot of communities now offer quick utility transfer where they help set up your water, trash, sewer, phone, cable, gas/propane, electric, and internet all in one call. Check your local directories for assistance.
  6. Don’t forget to call your insurance agent to transfer your home owners or renters insurance. Make sure to ask them what type of coverage you have while moving. You may avoid some extra costs from moving companies and/or truck rental charges.
  7. Change your address quickly and efficiently with the online process from USPS. Be mindful though, you also need to change your address for each account you hold through the actual organization (i.e. call or change your address online with your personal bank). Be prepared to have your banking information for authentication of request.
  8. Moving to a smaller place or moving away short term? You might need storage. PODS delivers straight to your new home anywhere in the country upon request. There are other services, such as Big Box and UPack, that can help. If you’re military, don’t forget to ask for a discount as they are often provided.
  9. Buying new furniture for your new place or selling your old furniture from your old place is often done during a move. There are online platforms to easily sell items without holding a garage sale. For buying new, try sites like AllModern where you can sign up and start making idea boards for each room to keep track of your styles and colors. There are tons of reviews on each product to get a better feel for the item you wish to purchase.
  10. Let’s face it, moving to a new state, starting a new job, or changing schools is stressful. It’s a lot easier if you have support. If you’re lucky, you may already have friends and family in the area you’re moving. If you don’t, make sure to go online and find communities to join. There are tons of people and activities on Meetup, and you can find great babysitters, dog sitters, or even house cleaners with Care. Additionally Moving offers information on schools and neighborhoods. Remember to say goodbye to your old house, studies show verbally saying goodbye creates less feelings of loss or grief when moving into a new home.

Need more assistance? Shoot me an email Bethany@FeelGoodPM.com.

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker

*Links are not endorsements.

Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act, it is unlawful for a landlord, managing agent, real estate broker, or salesperson to discriminate against any person because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or medical conditions related to them, as well as gender and perception of gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, disability, medical condition, or age. (Source: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/)

Below are three hot topics for Fair Housing red flags. Being knowledgeable in these topics will help protect you as a landlord in providing the proper rights for your tenants.

Criminal Convictions

As of April 2016, the Department of Fair Housing (HUD) released a memorandum regarding discrimination against convicted criminals and housing. The Federal Government indicated that criminals are entitled to a place to live without discrimination solely because they have been convicted of a crime. After talking to our California Association of Realtors attorneys, it is advisable to have your attorney review any Convicted Criminal rental policy you create for accuracy. What you should do:

  1. Create a policy with your attorney based on property related liability concerns.
  2. Do not create a policy against “criminals in general” or a “blanket policy” that states any convicted criminal will be denied. Creating a criminal policy will make you a target for investigation, so do make sure your attorney has given you the green light before posting or enforcing your policy.
  3. Do not be afraid to pull criminal background checks and enforce an attorney approved policy. Be mindful that criminal history is not linked to a social security number, they are only associated with names and DOB. Do your due diligence once you have information to make sure you have your facts straight.
  4. Do not create a policy based on arrest records alone. This is illegal. Arrests are not an indication of conviction or proof any crime was committed.
    (Source: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=HUD_OGCGuidAppFHAStandCR.pdf)

Service Animals

Service Companion Animals are also a hot ticket item right now. Many tenants are abusing the law by indicating their pet is a service companion. Many landlords are rolling over because they fear jeopardizing Fair Housing law. Other landlords flat out refuse to accept any animal, thereby becoming a target for investigation. What you should do:

  1. Request proof from a physician that the animal is indeed a service companion. You may ask for the details of the animal and require a prospective tenant to fill out an informational form.
  2. Accept the service companion once you have written proof and required form returned. However, you may not take an extra deposit.
  3. Require renters insurance naming the animal on the policy for incidentals.
    (Source: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Publications_StatLaws_DisabHous.htm)

Reasonable Modifications

There are two terms that get crisscrossed, Reasonable Accommodations and Reasonable Modification. Both are required for Fair Housing, but the below information is for Reasonable Modification. When a tenant needs a wheelchair ramp, closer parking space, bathroom bars installed, etc., the tenant can require reasonable changes to the property that help them have equal opportunity in and around their home. What you should do:

  1. Request all changes to be made in writing.
  2. Require all changes be paid for by the tenant (unless prohibited by law).
  3. Check with your HOA, if applicable, or City Code to ensure you are abiding by all laws when making modifications (i.e. wheelchair ramps in common areas, etc.).
  4. Require work to be performed in a workman-like manner.
  5. Don’t be shy to ask for more information or consult an attorney to ensure the request is reasonable and required.
    (Source: http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/pubs/CM1001.html)

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker

The laws for carbon and smoke detectors in homes are ever-changing and it can be difficult to keep up with them. At Feel Good Property Management, we know the importance of making sure your home is in compliance with those laws for the safety of you, your family, and your tenants.

The California Building Code states that one smoke alarm should be placed on each floor in non-sleeping areas. In addition, one smoke alarm must be installed in each room where sleeping occurs and one smoke alarm should be located in each hallway that leads directly to sleeping rooms.

The California SB 745 law was updated July 1, 2015. It states that all old smoke detectors must be replaced with a tamper free battery operated smoke detector, with a 10-year life rating. Meaning, if you have a detector with a replaceable battery, you have to toss it and replace it with one that has a sealed battery pack. And that goes for all the smoke detectors in your home. There is one exception: Hardwired smoke detectors can qualify but, they must have a label indicating when they were installed. In addition, they must have a built in “hush feature.” This way, if you burn the dinner, you can “hush” the alarm without ripping it off the wall and tossing it out the door.

Here is a quick checklist for your smoke detectors from Landlords Voice.

  • Must be installed in every bedroom.
  • Must be installed in hallways leading to bedrooms, centrally located outside sleeping areas.
  • Must be installed on every level/floor, including basements.
  • If mounted on the ceiling, should be 4 inches from the wall.
  • If mounted on the wall, should be 4-12 inches from the ceiling.
  • Do NOT install near draft areas, such as windows and vents.

A little law many landlords do not know is that it is the landlord’s responsibility to check the detectors since they are now placed with secured batteries. With that being said, a landlord may ask tenants to check them and update the landlord if the detector is non-respondent. But, if you are a landlord, remember to have interior home inspections often enough that you are taking on the primary role of liability in making sure you are in compliance with the law.

For CA SB 183 on Carbon Monoxide Detectors, as of January 1, 2013, you will need to install one on each floor of your home if you have an attached garage and/or fossil fuel burning appliances (i.e. gas stove, heater, water heater, gas fireplace, gas BBQ, etc.). The Fire Marshall indicates there is no plan for 10-year life tamper free Carbon Monoxide Detectors (yet). And although their website does say for maximum protection, place on in each sleeping room, it is not yet required by law.

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker

I put the key into my front door, unlocked it, and walked into my condo to find two elderly ladies sitting on my couch with their dog, watching my TV. They yelled at me to “get out”… and then they called the cops on me.

What’s wrong with this picture? The first thing, it’s a true story and it happened to my husband, Vince, while we were dating. He had an apartment in San Diego, he was a touring sound engineer, and was hardly ever home. When he was home, he stayed at my condo most nights. So, he rented a room to his co-worker’s dad. It wasn’t two months before Vince came home from touring to find that the co-worker’s dad let his mom stay with him, and then her friend… and her dog. My husband just thought he would sublet to cover the rent on his condo while he was on the road working. He never knew renting a room without written permission from the landlord would cause such a stir.

The cops did come, they questioned Vince and both the ladies. The cops knew the “visitors law.” Once you’ve stayed somewhere more than two weeks and are receiving mail at the residence, you become a resident with rights (this varies from state to state). There was nothing Vince could do, so he turned in his notice to move and crossed his fingers that the ladies and dog would go too. Thank heaven they all abided. If the landlord had to evict the “guest” residence, it would not have gone on their credit, the eviction would have shown up on Vince’s credit. Try getting an unlawful detainer off your credit for breaking the lease sublet clause, it’s not going to happen!

The California Association of Realtors Rental Agreement, under item 21, states: Tenant shall not sublet all or any part of Premises, or assign or transfer this Agreement or any interest in it, without Landlord’s prior written consent. Unless such consent is obtained, any assignment, transfer or subletting of Premises or this Agreement or tenancy, by voluntary act of Tenant, operation of law or otherwise, shall, at the option of Landlord, terminate this Agreement.

For a list of helpful terms like “unlawful detainer lawsuit” and “eviction,” check out the California Department of Consumer Affairs glossary.

So, word to the wise. If you are renting, don’t improperly sublet your home. Guests can become tenants in your rental quite easily and you might be shocked to find how quickly things can go wrong. Make sure to follow guidelines in your rental agreement. The agreement is written to protect renters and the owner.

Side note: If you own your home, a lodger can become a tenant as well, there are just other laws and stipulations to removing lodgers from your home.

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker

Calculations from an actual investment purchase

In this third and final part of Real Estate Investing Basics, we will evaluate an actual buy and hold deal we purchased. The property is a 4 bedroom home in Oceanside, CA, 92056. It was real estate owned after a foreclosure and had been sitting on the market for 240 days. It was purchased in January 2012 for $330,000.

The most critical metrics we used when we evaluated this deal:

  • Cash flow = $367 / month. We try to get a minimum of $200 per unit.
  • Capitalization Rate = 5.5%. For a nice single-family residence (SFR) in Oceanside, I accept CAP Rates greater than 5%.
  • Cash on Cash Returns = 5.8%. I compare this number to what I could get in the stock market or from another investment. For a San Diego SFR I accept greater than 5%. I may be able to get more from trust deed investing or stocks, but I like that someone else is paying down my mortgage, I am leveraging my money with a loan, I am getting tax benefits, and I have control of my asset.

The actual detailed numbers to get the calculations:

REI-BLOG-Calcs-Formatted

Download the Excel spreadsheet to do your own calculations.

Real estate is a great investment opportunity and with the right research and property managers, you can do it part time and passively with little stress! If you are interested in self-improvement, passive income, financial freedom, entrepreneurism, or real estate investing, take a look at a few useful resources that I have noted below.

Beginning books:

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
    • I lovingly refer to this book as the gateway drug for people who are interested in investing or working for themselves. If this book doesn’t get you psyched up to achieve financial freedom I don’t know what will!
  • The 4-Hour Work-Week By Timothy Ferriss
    • This book is good for efficiency enthusiasts or entrepreneurs who want to optimize their lives or businesses.

Next level books:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
    • This book is great for anyone who interacts with people and wants to get better at it. It can help a lot in your personal relationships and teach you how to get people to like and trust you (which helps immensely with sales).
  • The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller
    • This book was written by the co-founder of Keller Williams. It has slightly more technical investing information (compared to Rich Dad Poor Dad) and is still is very inspirational.
  • Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
    • Another inspiring book that is written for people who want to escape a 9 to 5 job and move into a life where they work for themselves as an investor, entrepreneur, and/or business owner!

Online resources:

  • BiggerPockets.com
    • An online community for real estate investors, professionals, landlords, property managers, etc.
  • NOLO.com
    • A good website for general information about starting a business, investing, tax tips, etc.
  • MortgageCalculator.org
    • A site to help you calculate monthly mortgage payments.

 

How to evaluate rental properties

In part one of Real Estate Investing Basics, I reviewed some simple reasons why real estate can be a great investment. But how do you determine which properties are the best buy and hold investments? I suggest learning the concepts, terminology, and metrics (calculations) to compare properties. Here is a quick explanation of definitions and metrics that summarize some of the basics of real estate investing (REI).

Definitions

  • Gross Income: All income received from an investment, rents, and other (subtract vacancy costs and collection loses).
  • Operating Expenses: All recurring expenses from an investment.
    • Includes: insurance, taxes, HOA fees, maintenance, repairs, property management fees, etc.
    • Does not include: loan principal and interest, income taxes, capital improvements, depreciation
  • Net Operating Income (NOI): Net operating income is the actual income stream from the property after you subtract operating expenses.
    • NOI = Gross income – Operating expense
  • Cash Flow: This is a measurement of the profit or loss from a property for ALL money in and out.
    • Cashflow = All income – All expenses

Below are very simple metrics for qualifying the investment of multiple properties:

Monthly Percent Rule (AKA 1% Rule or 2% Rule)

  • This metric is a quick and simple rule of thumb for evaluating properties before putting a lot of effort into an in-depth analysis. It is a ratio of the monthly rent to the total sales price and rehab of the property.
  • % Rule = (monthly rent / total sale price + other costs to ready the property for rent) * 100
  • For example, if you bought a property that cost $180,000 + $20,000 for rehab and it would rent for $2,000 per month = ($2,000 / $200,000 ) * 100 = 1%

Yearly Percent Rule

  • This metric is similar to the monthly percentage rule but it is the ratio between the yearly rent and the total sales price and rehab of the property.
  • Yearly % Rule = (yearly rent / total sale price + other costs to ready the property for rent)
  • From the same property example above = ($2,000 * 12 / $200,000) = 12%

Below are more advanced metrics for analyzing properties in more detail:

Capitalization (CAP) Rate %

  • The CAP Rate is the rate of return on an investment based on expected income. This calculation intentionally does NOT include mortgage payments as a cost in this calculation. Loan payments vary by the type, duration and terms of loan. Removing these from the calculation allows you to compare properties using an unbiased, apples to apples comparison.
  • CAP Rate = ((Net Operating Income / Property Value) * 100)
  • For example, if you were looking at a duplex that would cost $300,000 to buy and rehab, and it produced a net income of $30,000 per year, the Capitalization (CAP) Rate would be: CAP RATE = ($30,000 / $300,000) * 100 = 10%.
  • You can get more information about CAP Rates at PropertyMetrics.com.

Cash On Cash (COC) Returns

  • Cash on cash returns is a simple and effective metric to calculate your return on investment (ROI). It DOES include mortgage payments. It is a percentage that shows the ratio of annual income to the original amount of money invested. The initial amount of money invested is not necessarily only the sale price but it also includes the costs to purchase and rehab the property.
  • COC Returns % = ((Annual cash flow / Amount invested in property) * 100)
  • For example if you bought a $400,000 property for 20% down ($80,000) and then invested $20,000 in repairs, the initial investment of cash would be $100,000. If the property produced a total positive cash flow of $10,000 per year the calculation would be:
  • COC%= (($10,000 / ($80,000 + $20,000)) * 100) = 10%
  • Check out RyanPrice.ca for more information on how to calculate cash flow.

On the surface, evaluating profitability on buy and hold properties is not extremely complicated. There are many other critical factors that must be taken into consideration such as overall market outlook, financing, property inspections, finding the right renters, exit strategies, and more. It is extremely important to do your due diligence on the market, area, property, and people you are doing business with. At Feel Good Property Management, we can help you find the right property, fill it with the right renters, and maintain it to protect your investment.

Check back soon for part three of Real Estate Investment Basics where I’ll break down the profitability of an actual investment property in San Diego County.

Article by Matthew Burch, Feel Good Property Management Client Relations and Agent

Why is real estate a great investment vehicle?

Are you interested in investing in real estate? Do you want to learn more about how it is done and different tools to buy and hold the right properties? You have come to the right place! This three part series simplifies why real estate can be a great investment vehicle, what tools you can use to start buying and managing properties, and shows an actual investment example with calculations.

Real estate can be a great investment if you educate yourself and find the right property. The old real estate investment saying is “You make your money when you buy,” so make sure you do your homework and get the best deal out there! There are many good reasons to purchase and hold real estate. I have summarized four main points below:

  1. Real estate can be an asset that produces a positive income with little work required to maintain and operate it, especially if you hire a great rental management company like Feel Good Property Management. This monthly income is also known as passive income. My family has set a goal to buy enough real estate and other cash producing assets to cover our yearly expenses. When our passive income is more than our living costs, we have achieved our goal of “financial freedom!”
  2. You can use banks’ money and government programs to get money to invest.
    1. A loan can be good or bad depending on your current situation, the loan terms (type of loan, interest rate, term, etc.), and overall financial goals. By leveraging (borrowing) money from banks, you spread some of the risk to them. If the bank loans you $80,000 for a $100,000 property, and the property value rises and you sell it for $150,000, you keep the profit! If the value decreases to $50,000 you are on the hook for $20,000 but at least you have not taken a hit of $50,000.
    2. In addition, by purchasing real estate with a fixed low interest rate loan, you have a hedge against inflation. As the government prints more money, the dollar has less purchasing power, inflation rises, and property values increase meaning it will require more dollars to purchase the same property in the future.
    3. Some people, such as Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki, warn against keeping long term debt in place because of how much interest you pay to the bank. Some people preach that you should leverage (borrow) as much money as possible and have the bank take most of the risk. This also allows you to purchase more properties.
    4. My preference lies somewhere in the middle. I am happy with accumulating moderate amounts of good debt (low and fixed interest rate) but I want to avoid bad debt (high and variable interest rate). I also want to make sure I keep enough reserves (liquid cash on hand) in case of emergency such as a natural disaster, tenant eviction, repairs, etc.
  3. Real estate investments have tax benefits that allow you to shelter your income and defer paying taxes.
    1. As a homeowner living in your primary residence, you can write off mortgage interest, property tax, mortgage closing costs (points), home improvements, and more.
    2. For rental properties, you can write off all of the above plus any other costs associated with the property including insurance, travel, home office, depreciation, and more. Check out this article on NOLO for top ten tax deductions for landlords for more information.
    3. Another interesting tax benefit for buying and selling rental properties is tax free exchanges. Simply put, you can sell your current rental property for a profit and avoid paying taxes on the profit by investing that money in a more expensive and lucrative investment property.
  4. Real estate can be an appreciating asset.
    1. Appreciation is an increase in the value of an asset over time. The population is growing and that adds to more demand for housing. If demand for housing outpaces building new homes, home values generally go up. In general, new building and development is currently not keeping pace with population growth and real estate demand. This concept is known as supply and demand.
    2. Beware, property can also depreciate in value as well. The chart below shows an estimate for San Diego home prices from 1987-2014. Over the long term you can see a general upwards trend (appreciation) but you can also see steep a downward trend (depreciation) during the bubble and recession of 2006-2011.
SDTrend

Source: http://www.jparsons.net/housingbubble/san_diego.html

I hope this quick and simplified introduction demonstrates some benefits of real estate as an investment vehicle. I personally like real estate as an asset for the reasons stated above and because people will always need a place to live, eat, sleep, shop, etc. This article is focusing on simple buy and hold investing, but the real estate industry is multi-faceted and there are many other types of real estate investments out there including wholesaling, fix and flip, buy and hold, trust deeds, notes, commercial property, lending, etc.

Stay tuned for part two of Real Estate Investing Basics where I’ll break down definitions and metrics for understanding how to determine what properties are the best for buy and hold investments.

Article by Matthew Burch, Feel Good Property Management Client Relations and Agent

So the time has come for you to hire a professional to help you find a new house, sell your current home, or manage your investment rentals. Now what? If you don’t already have a good working relationship with a real estate professional, agent, or broker, then you’ve probably found yourself at the whim of Google, Yelp, or your mom’s hairdresser’s best friend’s cousin (and let’s face it, the last option has just one too many apostrophes to even consider a reliable source).

Being in real estate nearly a decade (which really isn’t that long considering some of my wiser counterparts), I come across this question quite often: How do I choose a real estate professional? There are so many factors to consider and facing the market for the first time can be very overwhelming (the jargon alone gets me every time… and I work here).

Below are my “go to” answers for my father-in-law, best friend in Louisiana, and even your mom’s hairdresser’s best friend’s cousin regarding “How to Choose a Real Estate Professional” – from one Real Estate Broker to you:

  • Get to Know Your Area
    Who is working in your neighborhood? Who is managing in your area? Who is selling houses? Call and talk to those agents. Find out their price and what services they offer for their fee. What’s your gut instinct when first talking with them?
    A lot of neighborhoods have niches and certain agents know who is buying, who is selling, and who is renting in your area. I am a huge fan of having fun and getting along with your professional. An agent might be good at closing deals, but your experience might suffer if you can’t understand them or can’t get a hold of them.
    I am a Realtor member, but I can’t ignore the value of the Zillow agent pages in your local area. It’s helpful for the general public to read and get a feel for who is working in your area. You can find it here: http://www.zillow.com/agent-finder/real-estate-agent-reviews/
  • Ask Questions
    Remember, you are interviewing them for a job. Don’t let them ask all the questions. Make a list of things that are important to you. How long have they lived in the area? How long have they worked as a Real Estate Professional? How long have they been at their current office? Do they work as a Real Estate Professional full time or part time? How many listings do they have? How many escrows have they closed? Do they have an assistant or will you be working directly with them? Ask them what they know about your house, your street, or your neighborhood. Whatever questions you have, ask them!
    The answers to these questions will be valuable to you and you can assess the information to help you choose and hire the right professional for you. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are interviewing other agents to find the right fit for you. It takes all sorts of personalities to make the world go around.
  • Get Reliable, Trusted Sources
    Who does your professional work for? Are you hiring an agent who works for a broker or are you hiring the broker directly? How closely will the broker be monitoring the activities of their agent? Make sure you know who you are working with and who they are working under. Accountability is key in any industry.
    Before you sign, verify their license status at the California Bureau of Real Estate website.
    You can also find a member of your local Realtor board by checking the California Association of Realtors website.

In closing, sometimes the new professional in town will work harder for you than the one who has been working the market longer. Don’t discount a newer agent or broker because of their lack of longevity. Just make sure you do your homework and know what you are getting when you hire them. Also, don’t be afraid to work with a small broker office. Or the other side of the coin; an agent in a bigger firm. If you still have questions, I would be happy to help, shoot me an email: bethany@feelgoodpm.com

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker

California is in a severe drought, 2011 to 2014 was the driest three-year period since record keeping began in 1895. What does it mean to you, your family, and your real estate? By implementing some simple solutions, you can help save our natural resources, reduce your property management headaches, and potentially put more money in your pocket at the end of the year.

One of the primary ways to enhance your water saving efforts is with drought-tolerant landscaping. According to the City of San Diego, outdoor irrigation accounts for more than 50% of residential water use.

The core premise behind drought-tolerant landscaping is reducing your water usage by implementing simple and smart strategies. Simply put, these strategies include what you use to cover the ground, which plants you choose, and how you deliver water to your plants. These principals go into some detail behind how you can make your landscape more water conscious while minimizing cost and boosting your property’s curb appeal.

Ground Cover

In general, eliminating or minimizing grass will provide huge water savings. If you pay for your (or your tenant’s) water, this potentially means a big cost savings. Grass is a huge consumer of water and probably the biggest source of outdoor water waste. If you want to keep some natural grass, it would be wise to minimize it where possible and ensure you are using high efficiency sprinklers. In addition, make sure you are watering at the correct time of day.

Looking for grass alternatives? Some options include artificial turf, mulch, or other ground cover. Artificial turf has come a long way and can be a big bonus to owners and renters who want a low maintenance yard. In addition, high quality turfs have a great look and feel with many different options that are designed to simulate real grass look. We installed turf at a rental property in Oceanside and had great results. We recommend San Diego Lawns & Turf Company for a wide turf selection and excellent installment.

San Diego County occasionally offers rebates for grass removal. Be sure to check out the WaterSmart website for information regarding potential rebates and savings.

Mulch, decomposed granite (also known as “DG”), and other ground covers are also excellent options because they can be aesthetically pleasing and also conserve water by reducing evaporation from the soil. In addition to reducing evaporation, mulch also reduces weeds and helps maintain more moderate and controlled soil temperatures. Affordable mulch can be purchased at the El Corazon Compost Facility in Oceanside.

Choose Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants

Artificial turf, mulch, and other types of ground covers are great but it can be difficult to attract good renters without the curb appeal of plants, shrubs, and trees. As property managers, we suggest finding local, drought-tolerant plants to complete your yard’s new look! There are a wide variety of succulents, shrubs, and trees that do not require intensive watering.

Leucadia Succulents in Encinitas has a great selection of plants. Another tip for succulents is propagating more succulents from existing plants. Succulents have the ability to be split and multiply into more plants! Check out this video and article for more information on how to do your own succulent clippings.

Water Your Plants Efficiently

How and when you apply water to your plants is a critical component of your smart-scaping. If you want grass in Southern California, it may be wise to invest in efficient sprinkler heads. This will help save water and hopefully motivate your renters to keep the grass alive with moderate watering.

What is the best way to water your other plants? Drip irrigation! Drip irrigation is a low pressure and low flow system that greatly reduces water waste. Drip irrigation applies water to the point of use (the plants roots) and waters plants slowly to allow the soil to absorb the water and avoid excess runoff. Be sure to check out San Diego’s website for potential rebate programs for installing micro-irrigation systems.

Make sure your water controller is set to water at the correct time and day. It’s best to water in between sunset and sunrise because temperatures and wind are generally the lowest. Make sure that you are watering on the correct day by looking at the watering schedules at the City of San Diego’s Water Prohibitions page.
Are you a techie? Look into smart irrigation controllers that account for plant types, soil conditions, and changing weather! Check for potential rebates on these devices at SoCal Water$mart.

Final Thoughts

How does drought-tolerant landscaping affect your real estate? In general, creating a drought-tolerant landscape can boost your property curb appeal and value. In addition, you may be able to find rebates to help pay for the improvements. For homeowners living in their primary residence, implementing these actions can provide huge monthly savings on your water bill.

For owners with investment properties, the actions you choose to implement may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. These improvements can reduce gardening and water costs, which is a big savings if you are paying those expenses. It can also minimize your landlord headaches by helping keep your rental property looking good through the summer months because your tenants will be less tempted to turn off the water in order to save on their monthly bill.

At Feel Good Property Management, we believe it is equally important to remember the impact that saving water has on the environment. Reducing water usage from your landscaping can help save California’s limited natural resources. By keeping this concept in mind, we can all chip in to keep California a viable and amazing place to live now and for our future generations.

Article by Matthew Burch, Feel Good Property Management Client Relations and Agent