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Assistance for San Francisco educators buying their first home

It’s hard not to have lots of respect and love for all the teachers and staff in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Although they mold the minds of the next generation and inspire a lifetime of learning and discovery, an educator’s paycheck doesn’t always reflect the vitally important role they play.

Sadly, many teachers and school staff cannot afford to live where they work, but there may be some relief. The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community (MOCD) has said in no uncertain terms that the city’s overarching goal is to create more homes for all San Franciscans, yet SFUSD employees are given special recognition in affordable home buyer programs.

The Teacher Next Door Program (TND) can give educators a hand up in buying their first home in San Francisco, infusing funds for down payment and closing costs, but there is more than a little bit of legwork to do. Candidates have to complete home buyer education and contact an approved lender to initiate the process.

Bay Property Group notes that buying always requires more preparation than renting, and so educators may be well advised to jump through a few extra hoops to potentially receive meaningful assistance.

This program tailored to educators is typically layered on top of other MOCD loan programs.

As a property management company and full-service brokerage, Bay Property Group always loves handing over the keys to new tenants and new homeowners, but as parents, we are a little biased when we say helping teachers find their first home is a little more gratifying.

San Francisco apartment living to enjoy the golden years

At Bay Property Group, our goal is to find the right-sized apartment for renters of all budgets and unique needs and we share the excitement of our residents when the keys to their shiny new apartment are handed over, but there is a special place in our hearts for tenants looking for a rental to enjoy their Golden Years.

The demographics of the rental market is changing. We were intrigued to come across this RentCafe article on the growing numbers of renters age 60+, a group on the cusp of surpassing those aged 34 and under.

Bay Property Group has personally welcomed many active seniors to their new surroundings and so while the raw numbers are interesting, we didn’t necessarily learn anything new. We are encouraged, however, that older adults are getting the respect they deserve in a changing rental market.

A new lease on life

Although the family home and its lifetime of memories are something to be cherished, many of our residents have made the choice to downsize when the kids have moved out and maintaining the home loses the charm it once did.

Bay Property Group knows the transition may be difficult, but it also begins a fun and exciting odyssey. It may also make good financial sense. We look forward to softening your landing and starting a new chapter in life.

Let’s start the journey

Want to live right in the thick of things? San Francisco apartment living can be a good choice for seniors who prefer to be surrounded by action. With a cornucopia of attractions, bustling and easily walkable streets and easy access to public transportation, the City by the Bay may be an excellent choice.

If a quieter area of San Francisco is more to your heart’s liking, Bay Property Group will show you the options. No matter your tastes and needs, we will help you zero in on the community, features, and amenities you need in an apartment at this stage of your life.

New friends and memories are on the horizon.

Sustainability tips sized just right for renters

Sustainable lifestyles are in vogue, with many tenants saying, “show me the green.” Especially with high rents in our area, Bay Property Group has seen increased tenant awareness of the potential for energy cost savings and doing their part in treading lightly on the environment.

As a real estate brokerage, we can help you achieve homeownership. Until then, although it’s exhilarating to daydream of owning a home with solar panels, rainwater toilets, geothermal heating, and a green roof, renters can’t change the infrastructure of the building.

It comes down to living smarter and using less to save the money that can go into your off-the-grid dream house fund.

With an ever-growing number of toys that tenants must have, powering electronics is a growing part of a resident’s energy bill.

Computers, televisions, gaming systems, phones, and other portable devices are hungry for electricity, but when you consider the charges needed to power devices, it adds up even more.

We recommend plugging all your equipment into a power strip which, when switched off, will eliminate any standby draw from these devices. Another benefit? Your equipment will be protected against power surges.

Computers can be kept in “sleep” mode when not in use, if not shut off completely — there is a widespread myth that turning a computer on and off is harmful. In fact, turning it off can actually extend its life. If your computer is always on, it can rack up your energy bill by up to 20 percent.

Monitors are another guzzler for electricity. Contrary to popular belief, screen savers are meant to save the monitor pixels from burn out, not to save energy.

New bulbs light the future

Lighting has come a long way since Thomas Edison patented the first light bulb in 1880. If you are using the same energy-wasting incandescent bulbs in your lamps and light fixtures, it’s time to use new technology that can reduce lighting energy by 50 to 75 percent.

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are the most common energy efficient bulbs on the market, using a fraction of the electricity compared to old-school bulbs.

Also, consider taking advantage of natural light during daylight hours and for those of you who like to tinker with things, you can also save money by installing timers to reduce the amount of time your lights are on. Besides saving energy, timers — also known as light switch timers or timer switches — will bring more convenience into your life.

Other simple and affordable energy conservation tips:

  • Set refrigerator temperature to 36 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Set freezer to 0 to 5 degrees F.
  • Turn off the water while shaving and brushing teeth.
  • Do not preheat your oven except for baking.
  • Cover pots/pans when cooking.
  • On hot days in the Bay Area, use a fan for air circulation instead of air conditioning.
  • When it gets cold, turn down the thermostat 10 degrees at night and keep curtains open on the sunny side of your apartment during the day.

We hope you found this post informative, and it’s part of our ongoing commitment to make our resident’s living as comfortable and economical as possible. If you are not a current resident and looking for a place to call home, contact our office to go apartment shopping — we would love to welcome you to their new surroundings. You’ll enjoy our hands-on, personalized and service-oriented approach.

Moving to the Bay Area — the good, bad and ugly of moving companies

If you are moving to the Bay Area, you’re not alone. A burgeoning population, global tech reputation, getting around easily with public transportation, a live-and-let-live attitude and mild weather are just some of the reasons why people are flocking here.

Before you move into that shiny apartment, you’ll have to make the transition. Bay Property Group has seen many smooth moves but we have also witnessed some disastrous experiences for tenants trying to settle in.

Selecting the right moving company is among one of the most important decisions you can make, but with with a profusion of interstate and local moving companies, it’s not an easy decision. We urge incoming tenants to do their due diligence before hiring any movers and a recent news story on how moving companies are accused of defrauding consumers brings this admonition home.

If you are moving locally, there are many good movers who can get the job done affordably and ensure your items get safely to your destination. We suggest conducting some online sleuthing on Yelp and other websites, as well as asking pointed questions, like whether they are properly licensed, how many vehicles they have, what type of liability coverage you are getting in the event of a mishap during the relocation (we recommend full value protection,) along with other probing questions to ensure the company is on the up-and-up.

Moving long distances is where it gets trickier.

Unfortunately, there are moving services who may throw out a low quote that the tenant can’t refuse, but we advise our future residents not to be a penny wise and a pound foolish. Many unsuspecting tenants can encounter delays, damaged goods, extra costs, and even have their belongings held hostage by unscrupulous moving companies.

There are several major carriers who are household names in the moving industry.  While they may not be the cheapest game in town, you be reasonably comfortable that by hiring a reputable company, you can avoid the common pitfalls and horror stories reported by tenants who rely on fly-by-night services.

Move smart, make a plan, and once you make the transition, Bay Property Group will make sure your stay in that shiny new apartment is as seamless as possible — taking great care of our renters is one of the hallmarks of our services.

Renters insurance covers your belongings and more

The core of our success at Bay Property Group is an awareness of the needs of both owners and renters, and we take care of both. When it comes to insurance, though, not all policies are created equal – your landlord’s coverage doesn’t cover your stuff. Most landlords’ insurance covers only the building and damages due to negligence.

Coverage for some of the most common causes of property damages and loss, such as theft, vandalism, and fire, is entirely up to the resident and so we are strong advocates for renters insurance.

There is a common misperception that renters insurance protects only your possessions when in fact, it covers more than personal property. The average policy also includes up to $100,000 in liability coverage. Translation: your insurer will help absorb the costs if you are held responsible for injuring someone or damaging another person’s property, including your landlord’s.

Maybe you lit several candles which start a small fire. Renters insurance may help you replace that sofa and bookcase. If you are entertaining guests and one falls on a frayed carpet in the hallway and requires medical attention, you might be on the hook for medical expenses for his arm injury. When a washer hose bursts and floods your apartment, renters insurance may help with the extra costs of housing and food if you’re forced to move out while your landlord makes repairs. A thief robs all of the electronics from your media center – it’s a few years old and you want to replace your old toys with everything new.

You might begin to see the importance of renters insurance, but what about the cost? According to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, the numbers make it a no-brainer – the average renters policy costs just $12 a month for up to $30,000 in personal property coverage, less than a couple Starbucks a week.

Bay Property Group invites you to shop around to research providers online, compare quotes, or pick up the phone to call an insurance agent. After answering a few questions, you most likely will get a quote in a nanosecond.

New Richmond ferry stop will ease East Bay commute

Richmond is a wondrous place to live, but the city has been known as being out of the way. Now, commuters can make the waterfront their new highway.

San Francisco is synonymous with the Bay Area, but if you’ve decided to make the trek here, there are many neighboring communities to discover and we provided the cook’s tour of some of them in an earlier post.

Richmond is another gem you can call home and the region’s newfound investment in water transit capacity will ease pressure on jammed freeways to make this city a more attractive destination for renters.

Richmond is an incredibly unique and diverse place and perhaps the only part of the Bay Area where people will regularly know your name after meeting you once. The rising price of housing elsewhere and the influx of tech workers has brought new faces, but Richmond has not lost its small-town vibe – the best parts and people have remained the same.

You likely won’t tire of the seriously good eats, panoramic views in the endless parks and trails that are a paradise for hikers, bikers, and photographers, but if you do, there is still plenty to do. Explore the rich naval history of Richmond by checking out the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park or see the restored SS Red Oak Victory, a World War II cargo ship turned museum.

Those of you who are seeking art without navigating the swarms of people that mob other Bay Area art walks, Point Richmond provides relief. These and many more aspects of Richmond living have endeared the city to many tenants, but while the city can grow on you quickly, it is nestled in western Costa County and has been a little out of the way.

After a Richmond ferry completed its maiden voyage on January 10th with a rousing welcome, Bay Property Group was excited to learn East Bay residents can avoid congestion and long commute times across the bridge by taking it by boat.

Renters will have their lives transformed by gliding from Richmond’s shoreline to downtown San Francisco in 35 minutes with some pretty nice views, comfortable seating, snack bars with beverage service, and complimentary WiFi on six vessels going to and fro the City by the Bay.

Get the schedule here »

Gliding into a new Richmond abode may not be so easy as hopping a ferry ride, but Bay Property Group will ease your transition – get in touch to explore your options and go apartment shopping.

Credit considerations when renting in the Bay Area & getting it in tip-top shape

In an earlier post, we told those of you thinking about making the leap to the Bay Area that while there is a lot to make your heartstrings zing here, come with your checkbook. Bay Area rents picked up steam in 2018, according to RealPage, a real estate analytics firm.

Related article: After lull, Bay Area rents are rising again, but not like before »

Although rents are expected to grow more slowly in 2019 thanks to new construction, the Bay Area remains one of the most competitive rental markets in the country. As you might suspect, expensive cities come with high credit standards. A study by RentGrow confirms that Bay Area housing providers have a high bar when evaluating creditworthiness for the purpose of comparing your overall risk profile to other rental applicants. Scores north of 700 are ideal, according to those who follow the metrics of renters in the Bay Area.

Caring for your credit score will surely pay off when it comes to finding a place to live, and so Bay Property Group recommends you find out where you stand and how you can improve, keeping tabs over time.

You can ignore your credit, but your credit won’t ignore you

As a starting point, check your credit report before you begin the apartment shopping process and dispute any errors that can be dragging down your score. There are several opportunities to build, improve and maintain your credit to minimize risk for landlords, and Credit Karma offers some tips.

  1. Do pay your bills on time
  2. Do pay down your debt
  3. Do diversify your credit mix
  4. Don’t open too many new credit cards at the same time
  5. Don’t close old credit cards

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the largest nonprofit dedicated to improving financial well-being and has a wealth of other tips and resources.

Credit score not a utopia – other factors come into play

A credit score is a simple concept: A hard and fast number based on the information within your credit report.  It helps lenders determine how likely you are to pay back your loans and helps landlords gauge your ability to pay your rent on time. Yet the actual score is not the only barometer.  Rental property owners will probably also put a finger on an applicant’s income, with many applying a standard that income should exceed the rent by three times.

We’re in this together

In parting thoughts, Bay Property Group recommends you take charge of your finances to secure your dream apartment. No matter what your financial picture is, we look forward to embarking on the journey – contact our office today.

 

Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area

So you want to move to the San Francisco Bay Area? Congrats on arriving in life, and now is the time to be rewarded for your hard work to get to this point.
You’ll find there is a lot to make your heartstrings zing here, but get your checkbook out — living in the epicenter of high-tech is not cheap. On the flip side, you can throw a dart on a map and expect to make more money here than anywhere else.

Bay Property Group loves welcoming new neighbors and can shepherd you into your new abode and a new beginning. To start the journey, we’ll give you the cook’s tour in some select communities.

San Francisco

It was the fog, the cable cars and being high on a hill which endeared San Francisco to Tony Bennett, but the City by the Bay has much more wonderment. Discover 101 reasons to move to San Francisco in this love letter to the Golden City.

Oakland

Although the City by the Bay is the first city that rolls off your tongue when you think of the Bay Area, Oakland’s relationship with San Francisco is like having a hot sibling — your sibling gets all the attention, more dates and everything seems to come easy, whereas Oakland has to work harder to make itself more interesting. With many creatives, artists and young professionals calling Oakland home, the city has earned its reputation as the hipper, grittier sibling of San Francisco and is only a short BART ride away.

If you are on a shoestring budget, you won’t have to live in a shoebox — rents are generally more reasonable in Oakland, than San Francisco. More on why everyone is moving to Oakland.

San Mateo

Looking for a lifestyle loaded with sunshine, glistening coastlines and a booming industry located only minutes away from Google headquarters and other high-tech hubs? San Mateo has it all. Ranked #29 of the top 100 best places to live in the U.S., San Mateo is a hidden gem in the Bay Area.

See 29 things you should know about San Mateo before you move there.

Menlo Park

One of the most vibrant and affluent cities along the San Francisco peninsula, Menlo Park is bounded by San Francisco Bay to the north, Palto Alto and Standford to the east and south and Redwood City to the west and is part of the admired San Mateo County.

Deciding where to live is sometimes a choice between comfortable rural living and the convenience of the big city, but Menlo Park offers the best of both worlds. Known for its family-friendly environment, and safe quarters, you’ll be met with buzzing foot traffic, window shoppers and newly constructed financial buildings into the city’s small commercial hub.

Stop looking and start finding with Bay Property Group

With years of experience introducing residents to their new surroundings, we are your resource for rentals throughout the Bay Area and look forward to going apartment shopping and helping you soften your landing.

Get started by entering your criteria on our vacancies.

Guide for first-time homebuyers

Although buying a home is a rite of passage and the American Dream, it’s also the largest asset most people will purchase. First-time home buyers are prone to missteps that can be avoided with real research and a trusted partner that will help you steer clear of pitfalls. That’s where Bay Property Group comes in.

Are you ready to make the investment? Keep in mind that down payment isn’t everything — we recommend you set aside 1–3% of your purchase price to cover unexpected fees and expenses and for an added cushion, it’s prudent to hold at least six mortgage payments in the bank in case of emergency.

Getting your financial house in order

The Bay Area is a notoriously expensive place to live, making it imperative for aspiring homeowners to have a solid financial foundation before entering the market. Metro-wide, the median price of a home is $900,000 — nearly four times the national average.

The California Association of Realtors (CAR) set off to find what Bay Area residents need to earn to buy a median-priced home there, which varies by county. Read their analysis here.

The map below, compiled by Business Insider, shows the minimal annual incomes needed to afford a typical home in the Bay Area.

If you have all of your financial ducks in a row, let’s dive into getting started.

Many buyer financing options available

Bay Property Group advises first-time homeowners to compare rates and fees from at least three lenders. If you only approach one lender, you can potentially be leaving thousands of dollars on the table. As you are comparing quotes, ask whether any of the lenders would allow you to buy discount points, whereby you can prepay interest up front to secure a lower interest rate on your loan. How long you plan to stay in your new home and whether you have a lump of cash to purchase the points are two factors to put a finger on to see if buying points make sense.

Getting a preapproval letter

Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is one thing — you get a ballpark figure of how much a lender may be willing to lend you based on your income and debts. But as you get closer to buying, it’s prudent to get a preapproval letter, where a lender more thoroughly examines your financial picture and confirms in writing how much they are willing to lend you, and under what terms. Armed with a preapproval letter, you look much more serious to a seller than the next buyer and this document can give you an upper hand in negotiations.

What’s your credit’s bill of health?

Since most home buying transactions involve a sizable home loan or mortgage, your credit score is clearly a paramount consideration. To get the best interest rate and loan terms, Bay Property group recommends you check your credit report before embarking on the home buying process and dispute any errors that can be dragging down your score. There are several opportunities to improve your credit, such as making a dent in any outstanding debts. Finally, to avoid a dip in your credit after you apply for a mortgage, resist the temptation to open any new credit accounts, like a credit card or auto loan, until your home closes.

Inspection and insurance

Once you and your agent find the right home, the transaction process begins. Typically, we’ll start by making an offer and once it is accepted by the seller, you’ll need to get an inspection and insurance.

The results of the inspection will only tell you so much and not all inspections test for things like radon, mold or pests, and we stress the importance of knowing what is included. We also recommend you attend the inspection and pay close attention, ensuring the inspector can access every part of the home, such as the roof and any crawl spaces. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask your inspector to take a look — or a closer look — at something that is of concern.

Before you close on your new house, the lender will require homeowners insurance. At Bay Property Group, we advise our clients to shop around and take a hard look what’s covered in the policies.

Let the journey begin

Searching for your first home can be fun and exciting, but it is also a challenge. Our home advisors will provide professional advice at every stage of this process and will be there to prepare you for the decisions, occasional disappointments and ultimate delight you’ll experience when you get the keys to your first home.

We hope you are lucky and quickly find an affordable home you are in love with, the seller accepts your first offer, you move into your new dream home with no broken dishes and your new neighbors bring you a casserole to welcome you. But for other first-time buyers, there are minefields to navigate. However easy or challenging, you can count on Bay Property Group for informed guidance.

Contact our office today.

Wildfire-Inspired Garage Door Safety Bill

When Senator Bill Dodd was forced to evacuate his NAPA home around midnight on the first night of the October fires, he couldn’t open his heavy wooden garage doors to use as an escape route. With widespread power outages, the garage door motor wasn’t working, but thankfully, a good neighbor came to his aide. One trapped neighbor encountering the same problem was actually forced to drive through his garage door.

“This isn’t a problem most people have thought of,” the Senator says in a news release, but he brought it to the forefront by introducing SB 969, co-authored by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters and supported by the Consumer Federation of California.

Under the new law, landlords and other property owners will no longer be able to install automatic garage doors unless they have a battery backup function designed to operate during an electoral outage. The bill’s requirements will be enforceable next summer.

For Dodd, the fire season exposed several vulnerabilities and underscored the need to be proactive in adopting policies that make communities safer in the wake of a disaster. Ensuring battery backups for garage doors is “a small step that can literally save lives,” he goes onto say.

At least five of the 40 people who died in the North Bay during the fires did not or could manually open their garages, The Press Democrat reported in December. Seniors and those with heavy wooden doors are especially at risk.

What the law means for rental property owners

Landlords are not required to proactively install new automatic garage doors, but any replacement door installed on or after July 1, 2019, must have the battery backup feature. Owners face a $1,000 civil penalty for failure to comply.

We applaud the bill and have always maintained that owners should develop an emergency preparedness plan before a disaster strikes, to protect, life, limb, and property.

New-gen technology to improve the experience of busy renters

In our many years of managing rental properties throughout the Bay Area and accommodating the residents who have entrusted us to provide a place to call home, we have gone through many cycles of digital technology.

While we always like to take the personal approach and enjoy spending time with tenants, we understand that advancements are automating things. Never letting the grass grow from underneath our feet, we have adapted to technology and have listened to the needs of apartment hunters and busy residents who want a more efficient way to handle their daily, weekly, or monthly tasks.

With that in mind, Bay Property Group has made steady investments in technology to better serve the needs of our residents. Candidly, it hasn’t been easy to adjust to breakneck changes and evolve from a company that builds long-lasting relationships to a quasi-tech company that puts our residents’ rental experience on autopilot.

We’ve now gotten our online resident portal down to a science and wanted to share some of the benefits of this next-gen solution.

For current residents

With a couple clicks, our tenant portal gives you the ease of paying online and there is no need to chase down the “maintenance guy” — you can submit your maintenance request online and expect a timely response. Set up automatic payment, view your payment history, and sign up for automatic reminder emails.

For apartment shoppers

Finding an apartment that fits your lifestyle and budget can be a frustrating experience, but Bay Property Group makes this process easier by serving you an online application that is accessible anywhere, from any device. Securely pay any application fee online and transition through the entire leasing process seamlessly.

In parting thoughts, Bay Property Group is constantly innovating to improve renter experiences, but technology will never be a crutch. We will stay true to our roots of personalized service when serving the needs of residents who we call neighbors and friends.

Knock knock. When and why Bay Area landlords can enter the unit

Landlords in San Francisco, Oakland and throughout the Bay Area naturally want to inspect the condition of their property and identify any serious problems that may manifest themselves over the course of a tenancy.

Of course, an inquisitive owner can visit their properties anytime at a distance to glance at the exterior and observe activity in and around the dwelling, but we urge owners to resist the temptation to knock on the door and make an impromptu inspection of the rental unit. That’s because in California, tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of their homes.

Translation: Once you hand over the keys, the law recognizes the tenant’s right to privacy and grants the owner permission to access the unit under limited circumstances. Barring an emergency, the landlord must give ample notice to enter the apartment to conduct specific tasks, namely:

  • To make necessary or agreed on repairs, decorations or alterations, or improvements
  • To supply necessary or agreed services
  • To show the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, residents, workers, or contractors
  • To inspect the premises to document the condition of the property upon moving in and out, for purposes of a security deposit
  • To inspect a waterbed for compliance with installation requirements

When owners encroach on the tenant’s right to privacy, it can not only sour the relationship with the tenant and possibly nudge them to move — it can also be a breach of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the rental unit and expose the landlord to liability. If you catch the tenant in an embarrassing moment, you are inviting trouble to your rental business.

Move-in and move-out inspections

As we noted in an earlier post, security deposit disputes are the most common reason why landlords are ushered into small claims court. To avoid conflict, a property inspection before residents move in or out of the rental unit is critical. A proper move-in and move-out inspection both holds the tenant accountable for damages caused outside of “normal wear and tear” and reduces the likelihood of conflicts when any portion of the security deposit is deducted.

What constitutes damage and what should be considered “normal wear and tear” is an enigma to many landlords, but this handy PDF can serve as a guide to evaluate any degradation to the rental unit.

Property management is part managing relationships, part bookkeeping, and part knowledge of the law.

Competence in these moving parts are the building blocks of a successful relationship with a property management company and the hallmarks of Bay Property Group. To explore complete property management services for single and multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact our office.

We look forward to delivering impeccable service and a seamless experience in managing your property and maximizing profits each and every month.

What rental housing providers can learn from the diamond industry

Great marketing impacts humans in all manner of different ways, inciting nuanced emotions from fear to anxiety, excitement, even empowerment. “People buy on emotion and then justify it with logic,” the late sales Goliath Zig Ziglar once said.

No one understands this better than the diamond industry. Although diamonds are one of the hardest materials found on earth, they have no unique distinctions and diamonds are actually the most common of gems. Yet, they have become an endearing symbol of love and commitment, as diamond marketers tell a story that connects in a deeply personal way.

Main takeaway for Bay Area rental housing providers

A main thrust of our leasing strategy at Bay Property Group is focusing on benefits, not features. One way to let these benefits shine through is to vividly paint a picture of the tenant living in your property. We talk about their furniture so they can mentally place it in the apartment or help them envision a lazy day by the pool, with the sun beating down on them as the weight of their stresses drip off their fingertips. Not too unlike Debeers imagery of placing a rock on her finger and sealing eternal love in that moment.

Different strokes for different folks

Of course, when we sell a lifestyle and not just a property, it’s important to keep a finger on what amenities matter to varying subsets of renters.

If Millenials are your lifeblood, we may showcase any high-end conveniences, community WiFi, recreational facilities, local pubs and other hangouts, and the like. Younger families may place a premium on the quality of the local school district, availability of daycare facilities and neighborhood safety.

Conversely, downsizing seniors may gravitate towards apartments with single-level floor plans, added security, proximity to transit hubs, and spaces for socialization, among a myriad of other amenities that solve their unique needs and life goals. A one-sized-fits all approach does not work in property management.

We like to say that we are not in the property management business, but the problem-solving business, and at the end of the day, we are successful only because we tailor solutions to the unique desires, concerns and problems of tenants and owners alike.

Make tenants part of the story

At Bay Property Group, we take a multi-pronged approach in marketing your rental listing, using the language and imagery that resonates with your targeted demographic.

The phrase “diamond in the rough” relates to the fact that naturally occurring diamonds are quite ordinary at first glance, and that their true beauty as jewels is only realized through the cutting and polishing process. To which we might add, the marketing process. You can leave that up to us.

Start the conversation

Getting the right renters in the door is just one component of our suite of full-service property management services, which includes applicant screening, rent collection, resident management, property maintenance, and other time-saving services for landlords and communities in San Francisco, Oakland, and throughout the Bay Area. Contact us for turnkey solutions.

There is much insecurity surrounding security deposits for Bay Area landlords

In our many years of managing landlord-tenant relationships at Bay Property Group, we can assure you than one of the first questions on an outgoing tenant’s mind — even before they ask themselves how to get a giant sofa out of that narrow doorway — is if and when they are going to get their security deposit back.

In the way of trivia, the #1 reason landlords are pulled into Small Claims Court is disagreements over security deposits, but these disputes can be anything but trivial.

The sequence of events, of course, is predictable. The tenant moves out after what they consider to be a reasonable effort to clean the rental unit and the landlord refuses to give all or part of the deposit, claiming that the apartment was left dirty or damaged. The outgoing resident asserts the landlord is illegally withholding the deposit and pursues legal action to recover their money.

Awareness is half the solution

A foundational belief we share at Bay Property Group is that good management requires an awareness of the needs and responsibilities of both owners and renters. One of the owner’s responsibilities — and a trait that will likely avoid disputes down the road — is a familiarity with the rules concerning security deposits.

California laws concerning security deposits are complicated

The process begins with the actual collection of the deposit. California law prescribes the maximum dollar amount owners can charge for both unfurnished and furnished dwellings, with additional increases allowed when the tenant has a waterbed.

Bay Area landlords must also adhere to unforgiving deadlines that dictate the number of days legally required to return the deposit or explain why the deposit is being held, whether in part or in whole.

This begs the question of how and when an owner ascertains the condition of the rental unit when the tenant is moving out. Within a “reasonable” time after the notice of termination of the tenancy, the tenant must receive written notice of their option to request a pre-move out inspection and the tenant’s right to be present at the inspection. These procedural requirements are best journeyed with an attorney.

What is normal wear and tear anyway?

Although the landlord can deduct for deficiencies not caused by normal wear and tear, this is an ambiguous term that Bay Area landlords often struggle to define. Our legal partners at Bornstein Law have put together a one-page “cheat sheet” for landlords to evaluate any damages to their rental units. The PDF provides a framework to distinguish neglect from blemishes that should be expected over the course of time. Download it here…

Documentation is key

After inspecting the premises of the outgoing tenant and documenting any abnormalities, the landlord has additional obligations to send the tenant a written itemization of any deductions for repairs, cleaning, and unpaid rent. In the eventuality of litigation, the legal burden to prove damage falls squarely on the owner.

We help you cover all your bases

Fortunately, rental property owners can rely on our seasoned team to establish and implement policies that protect your investment assets in San Francisco, Oakland, and throughout the Bay Area. Contact us for experience-driven guidance in operating a successful rental business.

Attracting Bay Area renters looking to live green

The relatively small amount of dollars spent in sustainable spaces is less a chicken-and-egg conundrum than it once was. The question has been, do rental property owners refrain from investing in green features because tenants won’t pay for performance efficiencies, or is that tenants don’t have access to these high-performing features and therefore, don’t have the opportunity to pay more money for them?

There is more evidence to persuade Bay Area landlords to invest in sustainable communities, not only to attract renters looking to live green but put green in the owner’s pockets. No less than 84 percent of respondents to an AMLI Residential survey reported that living in a sustainable environment is important to them. More telling though, is that 64 percent of respondents expressed a willingness to pay a higher rent for sustainable features and 85 percent attest that sustainable living is beneficial to their long-term health.

When Bay Area landlords consider adding sustainability features, it is less about an abstract cause of reducing the carbon footprint and increasingly, has become a wise return on investment in attracting environmentally conscious tenants that tend to be an upscale, desirable group of renters.

The survey underscores an opportunity for rental property owners to appeal to residents that seek a greener, healthier lifestyle. A smoke-free community was most coveted, with energy-and-water-efficient features not far behind. Communities that have high bike-walk scores or have proximity to public transit are also in demand, according to the survey.

The most requested green features were recycling and composting, solar panels, and community gardens.

RELATED: California’s Requirement for Residential Solar Panels Could Transform the U.S. Energy Industry

Investment property owners who want to paint their apartment community green can also pursue other sustainable elements:

  • energy-efficient appliances and lighting
  • plumbing that reduces water consumption
  • community recycling programs
  • native plant use in landscaping to reduce water needs
  • electric car charging stations
  • bike storage and repair
  • low or no VOC building materials
  • air ventilation
  • premium air filters

AMLI vice president of sustainability Erin Hatcher attributes renter interest in sustainability to a variety of reasons.

Some have indicated they enjoy the health and wellness benefits that come with sustainability; others like the idea of being part of a larger movement in sustainability that’s reducing their carbon footprint; and then some just, frankly, love to save on their utilities.

In our earlier article on employing technology to capture and retain millennial renters, we predicted that landlords who stubbornly cling to the old way of doing things may be left to the wayside. In the same spirit, rental property owners owe it to themselves to explore green features and keep up with the evolving landscape of sustainability.

At Bay Property Group, we are constantly innovating and pushing forward to better connect your rental property with the right tenants and maintain those relationships. This is just one component of a comprehensive approach to managing your real estate investment and ensuring the success of your business.

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