Economic benefits of hiring Bay Property Group Management

Owning rental property is a smart investment. The next best investment is using a property management company to relieve your stress by handling all aspects of your business and having a legal team on standby if tenants become problematic.

As a rental property owner, you want to maximize Net Operating Income (NOI), while maintaining and ideally, increasing the value of your real estate investments. Given such a herculean goal, it may make sense to hire a property management company to handle the numerous, tedious tasks to achieve success in your real estate business.

Bay Property Group will do our due diligence in selecting the right tenants and managing the relationships, but fortune tellers we are not. We can do the next best thing by saving you legal expenses when you experience unforeseen glitches that require the services of an attorney to address any stressors that may occur in a landlord-tenant relationship.

Will you make more money with a property manager? Some food for thought.

Many multi-unit property owners are unenthusiastic about the prospect of hiring a property management company because of the costs associated with outsourcing such a vast scope of work. This includes the upkeep of the property, screening tenants and welcoming them to their new surroundings, providing marketing and bookkeeping services, perhaps fixing structural defects or overseeing renovation projects, responding to tenant complaints, among the commission of other responsibilities that can quickly pile up and overwhelm a landlord.

Inexorably, time is money.

Bay Property Group can you time and energy, reduce your frustration and give you peace of mind knowing your real estate investments are being handled by a team of property management professionals.

This conservation of your resources is all the more welcome if you are a landlord who has the thankless task of managing multiple properties, especially when you have to hold down a full-time job.

Novice owners often encounter minefields and make costly mistakes that an experienced property management company will avoid. Also, if you are located far away from the investment property and do not want to travel on your own dime to maintain it, there may be heightened motivation to hire a property manager to keep it in shape.

There are many helpful tools on the Internet to help manage your property remotely, but clearly, it is no substitute for firsthand observations and hands-on management that can only happen by being on the front lines.

Having a knowledgeable property manager on the ground is especially helpful when something goes awry, for example, a plumbing breakdown. Unless someone close by can respond, it will be an exercise in frustration trying to get it fixed through multiple, annoying phone calls and arrangements.

Thinking long term

Tragically, many investment properties suffer from deferred maintenance and fall into atrophy, but the foremost goal of a property manager is to take good care of your investment to avoid costly repairs and to retain responsible, happy tenants.

If there comes a time when you want to bow out, Bay Property Group is also a full-service real estate brokerage that can liquidate your rental property for the most money the market can bear, in the shortest period of time and with the least complications.

Finding good tenants is critical to your rental business, and the hallmark of a good property manager. Tenants who do not pay rent or who are chronically late clearly have a negative impact on your bottom line. By renting to studious tenants, you will make more money because the undesirable tenants with a bad rental history and other red flags are weeded out.

As a full-service property management company, we do this through a combination of technology and old-fashioned, personal sleuthing.

When rental relationships fail, bounce back quickly

Although no stone is left unturned when screening tenants, sometimes life happens and for whatever unanticipated reason, even a model tenant can sometimes take a turn. You can count on our team to proactively address the situation and have a heart-to-heart conversation with residents who are not fulfilling their obligations.

We love all of our tenants and so as to not show preferential treatment, in the interests of fairness, our blanket policy is to serve a 3-day notice when rent is not paid and if the tenant remains delinquent after the notice is properly served, it regretfully is referred to our Broker of Record, Daniel Bornstein, who is also an attorney specializing in managing difficult relationships. Daniel works strenuously to mend relationships, yet we lament that in some circumstances, tenants may have to be transitioned out of the unit.

When repairs or renovations are necessary, get it right the first time.

If you were to do a google search for home improvement contractors in the Bay Area, you will be deluged with hundreds of results. Making the wrong selection of who you call upon can be disastrous.

Inexperience frequently leads to delays, expensive results and poor workmanship and even worse, invites hefty fines or lawsuits for multi-unit property owners. As a property management company with tentacles in hundreds of properties, we have a cadre of carefully vetted and battle-tested contractors on standby who will take the guesswork out of the equation.

All of the contractors we utilize are licensed and to insulate our clients from liability, this is a rule we will not budge on – you can save coins by a handyman who is a cousin or a friend of a friend, but we always advise our clients not to be a penny wise and a pound foolish.

Bay Property Group always pulls the requisite permits for a job and while we sometimes get surprised or get bogged down in red tape, we have a pretty good handle on the process and can expedite the project.

Remove yourself from uncomfortable conversations and the emotional fray

From our hard-won experience, rental property owners oftentimes face a conundrum or get in financial trouble when the landlord is unable to keep a professional distance from their tenants, and we don’t say that in a callous way. We are all human, but it’s important to compartmentalize your personal relationship and empathy with the tenant and the fact that you are operating a rental business.

A property management company can serve as a buffer between the landlord and the tenant, prioritizing the financial interests of the owner without the risk of being overly lenient on behavior that upsets the landlord. It is easier for a property manager to keep the relationship on a professional level, without hard feelings, by setting mutual expectations in the rental relationship and enforcing these covenants without the owner having awkward conversations.

Although by and large, our clients are stewards of their community by providing safe, clean and affordable housing and treat renters with respect, sometimes frank communication and serving necessary documentation is uncomfortable. When a landlord is reticent to address issues, it can lead to expense and a loss of income.

At Bay Property Group, we pride ourselves on taking good care of tenants, but we also can have difficult conversations when friction arises so that rental income is not interrupted or other expenses incurred.

Using unlicensed contractors a roulette wheel for landlords

In our many years of managing the real estate investments of our clients, Bay Property Group has forged longlasting relationships with a variety of contractors. While we painstakingly vet the home improvement professionals we hire to keep your property in good condition, from time time, Murphy’s law sets in.

Just a couple weeks ago, a pipe burst on what was considered a standard job, and this spilled into a neighboring unit. The event was unfortunate, but since the contractor was licensed and bonded, the insurance company funded brand-new plumbing fixtures in both units. Although the mishap was certainly an irritant, it was not catastrophic.

Have things just worked out just fine before? Don’t count on your good fortune to continue.

Accidents are unintentional — that is why they are called accidents. Bay Property Group has encountered many landlords who have unlicensed contractors on speed dial, and for the most part, jobs go off without a hitch. If this sounds like you, please don’t get a false sense of bravado. It only takes one time for calamity to strike and potentially, bankrupt your rental business.

Take, for instance, shoddy work on a heating system that results in tenants suffering carbon monoxide poisoning, and you have colossal liability.

Not uncommonly, many rental property owners call upon workers who go beyond the scope of their competencies. Someone skilled at carpentry, for example, may not be familiar with electrical codes.

Now is not the time to save a few coins by hiring a friend or your cousin

Hiring a friend or family member who is unlicensed is the same thing as hiring an unlicensed contractor — if something goes awry, the legal system will make no distinction when it’s time to pay up for injuries or damages, and oftentimes, friendships do not survive with a dark cloud of financial obligations, lost wages, and lawsuits looming.

Our policy

Bay Property Group is sometimes approached by landlords with a recommendation to utilize the services of unlicensed handymen in an effort to save some money. For many property management companies, this presents an ethical conundrum because risks have to be weighed against potential savings.

Bay Property Group understands the bottom line of owners and we work hard to maximize your return on investment, but on this topic, we cut no corners. Our blanket policy is to use licensed contractors and pull the proper permits to protect the long-term interests of our clients.

Success should not be left to chance.

First time homeownership for San Francisco first responders

Home ownership is a right of passage and we take great pride at Bay Property Group in helping all buyers glide smoothly into the joys of owning a home. While there are many programs available to those aspiring for the safety and security of homeownership, San Francisco has singled out certain good neighbors who contribute much to the rest of us and guarantee the safety and security of all.

We stated the obvious in an earlier post that the Bay Area is a notoriously expensive place to live and provided some hard and fast numbers on median home prices. Given such astronomical home prices, buyers who come with a hefty down payment can separate themselves from the curious to the serious.

For the missing middle-income first responders and educators, however, it’s challenging to scrape up the funds necessary to make a fighting chance in this housing market.

First responders who serve us are universally acclaimed as heroes, but in many cases, the pay does not match up to the acclaim. Some help can be provided.

Active, uninformed and sworn police and fire personnel can make their own call to help by taking advantage of the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program. Under DALP, special funds are allocated for first responders and educators who want to put a downpayment on a house.

Every closing is an emotional moment for us at Bay Property Group, but it’s especially rewarding when the buyers are repaid our debt of service to the first responders who deserve a home to call their own.

Renting in Albany California

Bay Property Group loves San Francisco and Oakland, but there’s a lot more to the Bay Area than these big-name cities. For aspiring residents who come to us to find their next abode, home sweet home can range from an urban loft to a refuge in the hills.

Dozens of towns surround San Francisco and major East Bay hubs and each has its own unique, only-in-the-Bay qualities that are worth apartment shoppers to consider, and one of them is Albany, a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northwestern Alameda County. Situated between North Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Richmond, Albany is close to major freeways, as well as BART and other public transportation.

For residents seeking a small town ambiance with the vitality of a major city, Albany may be a good fit — it has it all.

Albany is home to Golden Gate Fields, where you can experience horse racing, spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, and some of the best people watching the world over.

Solano Avenue is Albany’s main artery and offers a cornucopia of charming retail shops, bookstores, antique dealers, and ethnic restaurants with a variety of cuisines to satisfy every palate.

Residents with children will enjoy friendly neighbors, grassy parks and playgrounds, and top-notched schools with a tradition of excellence, consistently placed in the 90th percentiles year after year.

There is a lot to explore in Albany and throughout the Bay Area before you settle into your new apartment, and Bay Property Group will show you around. We know these towns.

Tax deductions for savvy Bay Area renters

Many renters feel left out after hearing about the windfall tax benefits that come with the perks of homeownership, such as mortgage interest and property tax deductions. It raises the question: can renters also deduct any of the taxes he or she pays?

In some cases, the answer is in the affirmative.

Freelance work from your apartment

Nowadays, it’s commonplace for many people to land freelance work to make a few extra coins on the side, especially with the Bay Area’s large pool of tech workers with skills in high demand. You probably know that as a freelancer, you can deduct business-related expenses against this secondary income — the cost of printing business cards or setting up your website, for example. However, you may be able to deduct part of your rent as a business expense, with several caveats.

To qualify for this type of deduction, you must have a delimited space in your living area where you perform all of your freelance work, and it must be used exclusively for your business activity. Parking your laptop on the kitchen table doesn’t transform the kitchen into your office.

Let’s say you rent a 1,000-square-foot apartment from Bay Property Group for $2,000 per month and you’ve carved out a 10-foot by 10-foot workspace (100 square feet) to get down to business and inspire the flow of creativity.

Doing the division, your workspace takes up 10%, meaning you may be able to deduct 10% of your rent as a “home office deduction.” Since your annual rent is $24,000, that translates into a potential $2,400 tax deduction. Other expenses you incur may be eligible for this deduction as well, but remember that the IRS requires and fully expects you to keep records to substantiate your expenses.

Nonrefundable Renter’s Credit

In California, you may be able to get a tax credit on your state income tax return for simply paying rent during the year. California’s Franchise Tax Board outlines who is eligible.

Qualifications

You must meet all of the following to qualify:

  1. You were a California resident for the entire year.
  2. Your California adjusted gross income (AGI) is:
  • $41,641 or less if your filing status is single or married/RDP filing separately.
  • $83,282 or less if you are married/RDP filing jointly, head of household, or qualified widow(er).

3. You paid rent for at least half the year for property in California that was your principal residence.

4. The property you rented was not exempt from California property tax.

5. You did not live with another person for more than half the year (such as a parent) who claimed you as a dependent.

6. You were not a minor living with and under the care of a parent, foster parent, or legal guardian.

7. You or your spouse/RDP were not granted a homeowner’s property tax exemption during the tax year.

  • You may still qualify for the credit if your spouse/RDP claimed a homeowner’s exemption and you maintained a separate residence for the entire year.

Of course, there are many other deductions that may apply to renters, such as charitable giving, student loan interest deduction, and more — please consult a tax professional. Bay Property Group are not CPAs and cannot give tax advice.

We can, however, help you find your next shiny Bay Area apartment. After your search is over, you can return to us to make secure rent payments with a couple of clicks, view balances, submit maintenance requests, get renter tips, and more, all in one place online.

Finding a Bay Area Apartment with walkability to everything else you need

Bay Property Group can introduce apartment seekers to walkable and transit-friendly neighborhoods. We’ll show you how easy it is to enjoy the walkable lifestyle.

There’s a lot to make your heartstrings zing in the Bay Area, but traffic is not one of them. Commuters have plenty of transit options available — trains, trolleys, BART, buses, bikes, scooters, and even electric scooters, yet many of us are still in love with those four-wheeled monsters.

It’s so bad that we have been ranked #8 on the top 10 list of the most congested city in the US, and if we keep adding more people to the region and the roadway, we just might catch up to Los Angeles, Moscow and New York before we know it.

One way to avoid gridlock is to temper the American dream and get out of your car — who wants to go ballistic just driving to the store for milk when you can waltz down to the corner instead?

Renters are discovering surprising benefits to their health, the environment, finances and the communities in which they live. Besides the weight loss of residents who live in a walkable neighborhood when compared to someone who resides in suburban sprawl, your feet have no pollution and walkability has been associated with higher levels of arts, organizations, creativity and civic engagement. Pedestrian-friendly places are happier places. After all, who doesn’t want to go outside once in a while?

A city’s walkability is determined by the ease of access to amenities (restaurants, banks, salons, shopping, parks, schools and so forth) and how many errands can be done without dragging around a two-ton carcass of steel that is expensive and belches climate change.

Fortunately for apartment seekers, it’s easy to live the walkable lifestyle in the Bay Area. Walk score has been around for more than a decade and uses an algorithm to measure how convenient it is to do daily errands without wheels. After routes to various amenities are analyzed, points are awarded and residences are rated on a scale of 1 to 100.

90–100
Walker’s Paradise
Daily errands do not require a car
70–89
Very Walkable
Most errands can be accomplished on foot
50–69
Somewhat Walkable
Some errands can be accomplished on foot
25–49
Car-Dependent
Most errands require a car
0–24
Car-Dependent
Almost all errands require a car

This could have a bearing on your next moving decision. For many of our tenants, walkability is almost equal to price as the most important criteria, and they can find it in the Bay Area. Since our growth occurred before the automobile age, you can say our region was built for moving on foot.

The City by the Bay
Nob Hill and Pacific Heights have panoramic views for a reason — those hills make San Francisco walkers stronger, but even taking into account the harrowingly steep hills, San Francisco weighs in at a walk score of 89, with easy commutes to Silicon Valley and other destinations, and a stroll away from culture, art, Golden Gate Park’s mash-up of people, and so much more. You are hard pressed to find a spot in San Francisco that doesn’t have everything you need — San Franciscans can walk to an average of 3 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the span of 5 minutes.

The most walkable neighborhoods include Downtown-Union Square, Lower Nob Hill, and Chinatown, the most walkable neighborhood which comes in at a perfect score of 100.

Oakland
In an earlier post, we noted that Oakland no longer plays second fiddle to San Francisco. As a cultural playground and nestled in a stunning location on the shores of Lake Merritt with transit-friendly living, Oakland is an icon of walkable living. This sustainable city ranks 72 overall on Walk Score, though many neighborhoods hover in the ’90s. Walkers can discover paradise in Downtown, Koreatown-Northgate, Temescal, Piedmont Avenue, and Mosswood, all in the top 5.

Stay tuned for future posts as we explore other communities, but suffice it to say Bay Property Group would welcome the opportunity to be your escort on the exciting odyssey of finding your next shiny apartment in the Bay Area. Contact us to start the journey, or view current vacancies to get the creative juices flowing.

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.