Phone: 310-729-6573
Email: martin@martinfeinberg.com

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Why Vetting Vendors is Essential as a Property Manager

Image is an illustration of a man with multiple arms holding different construction tools in each one.Choosing a vendor for a rental property involves more than just finding a service provider capable of handling whatever service is needed.  Every vendor that is hired becomes a representative of the property owner.  In fact, property owners can even be held liable for the illegal actions of a vendor if it can be shown that the owner should have taken more care in giving them access to a property or tenant.  It’s important to vet vendors in order to protect a business’s reputation and also ensure the safety of the property and tenants.

For this reason, many property owners choose to utilize professional property managers who often come with a list of vendors that have already been vetted and have shown to be capable of maintaining and repairing a property.

Every professional property manager should have a list of approved vendors that can be contacted when needed. Experienced property managers such as Martin Feinberg know what services are likely to be used and are prepared with vendors for all contingencies.

Property managers should have vendors for a variety of services from repairs during tenancy and turnover to routine maintenance and sometimes even business tasks.  While it’s smart for every vendor to be assessed and vetted prior to service, it’s especially important to screen maintenance vendors because they interact with tenants directly and can be a potential liability.

Property managers that are new to the vetting process can begin screenings by considering these questions to help gauge a vendor’s accessibility, compliance, experience, licensure, insurance, and other basic requirements.

ACCESSIBILITY:

Is the vendor close to the properties they would need to serve?  Are they easy to get a hold of?  Do they return calls or emails?  Do they offer 24/7 services or emergency solutions?

LICENSURE:

Is the vendor’s business license and the individual’s professional license up-to-date?  Unlicensed vendors should be avoided.  Also be aware of the status of the state, county, or city licenses if local statutes require them.

INSURANCE:

Does the vendor have insurance to cover any damages, injuries, or liability claims if that becomes necessary?

EXPERIENCE:

How long has the vendor been in business?  Do they have testimonials, referrals, or reviews that will help assess their quality of work and interpersonal skills?

EMPLOYEES:

Does the vendor screen their employees or the contractors they might send to a property?  A property manager could be found responsible if they used a vendor who employed a dangerous or irresponsible person who caused harm to a tenant, the property, or themselves.

Property managers need to remember that vendors should be happy to provide this information in order to secure business.  If a vendor is hesitant or refuses to answer questions or provide documentation, consider it a red flag.   Property managers can also take advantage of vendor screening services that check criminal and financial backgrounds to help in their vendor screening process.

Image is a house shaped key ring with two keys attached to it.

Christmas Season Service Opportunities Around Culver City

Image is a small globe topped by a Christmas hat with dolls of different nationalities gathered around it.While there are always opportunities to serve throughout the year, local listing agent Martin Feinberg recognizes that the holiday season is a great time to get out and serve the Culver City community.  For those looking for service opportunities within the Culver City Real Estate area, check out some of the chances to give back, listed below:

Friday, Dec. 7: Holiday Tower Lighting

Culver City Parks, Recreation & Community Services Department is looking for people will to help with the Holiday Tower Lighting.

According to the Culver City press release, “We need enthusiastic, reliable and fun-loving volunteers to help make this family friendly event a great one.  Volunteers must love kids and snow! We’ll need volunteers for decorating, arts and crafts, line control and more.”

There will be two volunteer shifts available: Decorating from 2-5:30 p.m. and Event Helpers from 5:30-9:30 p.m.  People should email Jill if interested.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays from Dec. 4 – Jan. 15: Culver City Walk ‘n Rollers Count

Walk ‘n Rollers, a group which helps kids get to school safely by helping to provide safe walking and riding routes to school, are gathering data on traffic conditions around Culver City schools.  This effort will help create a more complete picture of the traffic patters around Culver City schools.

“Volunteers are needed to visit school sites, observe key intersections and walk popular school traffic corridors for one hour shifts and document the number of pedestrians and cyclists as well as driver behavior.

Some volunteers will be asked to walk up to a mile, but others will be asked to monitor from a fixed position. Volunteers can bring a chair, something to drink and a hat for shade”, the press release said.

Volunteer shifts are from 8-9 a.m. each day, except for Dec. 12 and 18, when it will be from 7:45 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Please email Jim for more details.

A Child’s Dream Annual Holiday Outreach – Sat., Dec. 15, 2018

A Child’s Dream will be hosting their annual holiday outreach in Culver City at the Teen Center on Overland Boulevard. Volunteers for this service opportunity are needed to assist with the distribution of toys, snacks, and groceries to children and their families.   Shifts will last at least two hours and will take place between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

If interested, please contact A Child’s Dream to sign up.

Holiday Volunteering Resources

Not all service opportunities come in the form of volunteering time. For some individuals and families, a physical donation of goods or money works better.  For those families or businesses looking to give back this holiday season with a donation, please check out this resource on the City website.  Though this list has donation opportunities, there are other opportunities listed that require a physical presence as well, such as caroling in Culver City.

The Culver City Fire Department will also be hosting their annual Spark of Love Toy Drive and you can drop off a new toy at any CCFD Station. Look for more information on that event here.

Image is a cartoon train that has the words "Christmas Time," "donate," "time," and "thanks" written on the train cars.

Spark of Love Toy Drive is in Full Swing Now Through end of December

Image is of a young child playing with blocks.The Culver City Fire Department will be collecting new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment now through December 24thfor their annual Spark of Love Toy Drive. The donated gifts will go to underserved children and teens living in and around the Culver City Real Estate area.

The Spark of Love Toy Drive has collected over 10 million toys over the last 26 years. Fire departments in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Ventura, and Riverside counties all take part.  The Spark of Love Toy Drive will be partnering this year with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, which has been taking place for 71 years.

According to the Spark of Love Toy Drive webpage, “With firefighters and Marines standing side by side, we believe this will be the biggest Spark of Love yet.”

Donations will be accepted at all three Culver City fire stations. The stations are located at:

Fire Station 1: 9600 Culver Boulevard
Fire Station 2: 11252 Washington Boulevard
Fire Station 3: 6030 Bristol Parkway

Donations dropped off at a local fire station must be new and unwrapped. Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that online donations are also accepted, for those who cannot physically drop something off.  To donate online interested individuals should go to http://www.supportlafd.org/spark-of-love/.  Donations via credit card will be accepted.  All proceeds will go to buying toys or sports equipment for the children.

The Spark of Love Toy Drive always collects lots of toys for young children, but gifts for teens are usually fewer and farther between.  Volunteers suggest looking into the options below if someone is having trouble deciding what to donate:

  • Cameras
  • Watches
  • Jewelry
  • Sunglasses
  • Headphones
  • Cellphone cases
  • Skateboards
  • Razor scooters
  • Basketballs, soccer balls, and footballs
  • Cross-body bags
  • Make-up brushes
  • Blow dryers, curling irons, etc.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg suggests that anyone who has questions or need additional information should email Firefighter Brett Nagel brett.nagel@culvercity.org or call Fire Station 1 at (310) 253-6810.

They can also visit the Spark of Love Toy Drive for more information.

Image is a toy truck pretending to carry a miniature Christmas Tree in its bed.

Understanding Management Fees when Owning an Investment Property

Image is an illustration of a green house with a dollar sign imposed inside of it.For most rental property owners, deciding whether or not to use a property management company to manage their properties is a big decision.   While a lot of investment property owners self-manage, a property management company is a good way to secure rental income without the stress and much less dedicated time.  The trade off of course is the payment of management fees.

Property managers collect fees for the services they provide.  They handle the stress and worry of screening perspective tenants, leasing properties, dealing with tenants, taking care of repairs, facing evictions, and knowing the legalities of rental properties, all for either a flat fee/cost of services or a percentage of the owner’s rental income. These management fees often break down into the following nine categories.

Leasing Fees
A leasing fee is charged to owners to cover the cost of advertising a vacant property, showing the rental, reviewing applications, screening tenants, processing lease paperwork, and preparing the property for move-in.  These can sometimes be referred to as placement fees.

Monthly Management Fees
A monthly management fee is collected for performing all services associated with handling and processing rent payments, property inspections, managing maintenance requests and emergency maintenance calls.  These fees typically range from 6-10% of collected rent on a property.

Vacancy Fees
Some professional property managers charge a fee even if the rental unit is vacant and not making any rental income.  These types of fees are usually small flat fees, and not all property managers charge them.

On-boarding Fees
An on-boarding or setup fee can sometimes be charged as a one-time fee used to establish a new partnership with management and to set up a new account. They vary depending on the management company and not are always charged.

Late Fees
When a tenant pays rent late and incurs a late fee, some management companies can choose to collect all or a portion of the late fees charged to your tenants.  They can also pass along 100% of late fee charges to the owner instead.

Maintenance Fees
Some property management companies charge a markup for the cost of services when maintenance is needed on a property.

Lease Renewal Fees
Some property managers charge fees when a tenant decides to renew their lease on a property.   These can be a flat fee or a full month’s rent.  When it is charged it’s usually similar to a leasing fee.

Eviction Fees
Evictions take up a lot of time and energy, especially when courts get involved. Often management companies will charge fees based on the amount of effort and time it took to remedy or process an eviction.  However, dealing with evictions is often the main reason that investment property owners choose to utilize a management company.  They are complicated and take a fair degree of legal knowledge.

Other Income Fees
Some management companies choose to keep all, some, or none of the income associated with returned check fees, rental income for pets, lease violations fees, unpaid invoice fees, bill payment fees, or income from laundry or vending machines. 

Image is an illustration of a graph.Sometimes property owners may feel that property management fees, regardless of the kind, are unnecessary. However, when a manager is needed to handle tricky, time consuming, or stressful situations, many owners realize how helpful property managers are.   Professional property managers like Martin Feinberg can be a vital aspect of keeping an investment property financially viable.

New Culver City Narrated Walking Tour Available From Otocast App

Image is of two girls touring a city, taking pictures.Following on the heels of the recent release of the Downtown Cultural Walking Tour Book—which Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Art in Public Places Program—residents and visitors can now also listen to a narrated tour of the city by downloading a mobile app created by Otocast.

The app can be downloaded by visiting the App Store and downloading the Otocast (Travel) App at no cost.

The new mobile app will allow people in the Culver City Real Estate area to learn about public art and historical buildings in downtown Culver City.  Those who use the app will be able to listen to local artists, City Historian Julie Lugo Cerra, and other Culver City residents as they tell the interesting stories behind different city sites.

Culver City Mayor Thomas Small stated, “I want to invite you to enjoy walking through either Tour One or Tour Two, both of which begin at historical buildings. As an architectural writer and consultant, I have a particular fondness for some of our cherished buildings, as well as the public artworks that so effortlessly fit into their built surroundings.”

Besides the new audio tour, GPS pins are also available to guide listeners to specific sites.  There are also multiple photographs and written text in the app too.

Image is someone holding an Apple iPhone.To pick up a free copy of the illustrated bright red tour book, local listing agent Martin Feinberg recommends visiting the following locations:

  • City Hall on the 1st and 2nd floors, and in the Mike Balkman Council Chambers located at 9770 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
  • Culver City Julian Dixon Public Library at 4975 Overland Ave., Culver City, CA 90230
  • Arcana: Books on the Arts located at 8675 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
  • Lundeen’s at 9726 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Golden State Water’s Operation Gobble Donates over 8,000 Turkeys

Image is a turkey dinner.Martin Feinberg, Realtor, was pleased to learn that Golden State Water Company (Golden State Water) worked in partnership with elected officials and different community leaders to distribute more than 8,000 turkeys this November.  The turkeys were donated to organizations that serve both families and individuals who have limited resources.  Golden State Water refers to this annual outreach program as Operation Gobble.

Denise Kruger, Senior Vice President of Regulated Utilities for Golden State Water, stated “Golden State Water serves 76 communities throughout California, and we are able to make a big impact through the Operation Gobble program which provides holiday meals for those who may otherwise go without. We appreciate the partnerships we have with local elected officials and community organizations to ensure the turkeys find their way to those who need them most.”

Operation Gobble is a charitable partnership between Golden State Water and the California Water Association, as well as both local and state elected officials. Employees of Golden State Water distributed turkeys to local community-based organizations, including The Salvation Army, Boy Scouts of America, Lions Club, churches, food banks, senior centers and other nonprofits in the communities it serves.  This includes different organizations within the Culver City Real Estate area.

Golden State Water has been taking part Operation Gobble since 1990. Over the last 28 years, the tradition has led Golden State Water to donate more than 230,000 turkeys through the program.

Image is a drawing of turkey feathers with the words gobble gobble under them.According to Ronald Moore, Golden State Water’s Operation Gobble project leader, “Operation Gobble has become an important part of the holiday season for all of our employees who understand the significant impact a warm Thanksgiving meal can make for our neighbors who have limited resources.”

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg encourages those interested in learning more about Golden State Water’s community partnerships and philanthropic activities to visit gswater.com, or follow @GoldenStateH2O on Twitter and Facebook.

Property Managers and Handling Professional Pest Control

Image is a mouse trap with a yellow piece of cheese on it.Professional property managers like Martin Feinberg face an endless number of challenges in their efforts to provide their tenants with a clean and safe environment while helping their rental property owners to maximize their real estate investments. One important responsibility that property managers have is handling pest control.

There are many different pest control companies out there for property managers to choose from. Figuring out which company to use or what services to pay for can be a tricky question.  Here are four things property managers should consider when dealing with unwanted pests in their rental units.

Know Your Enemy

Knowledge is the best weapon against unwanted pests.  Property managers should know which pest species are most common in their area and they should also know the best ways to keep those pests out of rental properties.

Once a property manager knows which pests they should be most concerned about, the next step is researching which pest control companies have the best record for dealing with them.  Property managers should research how each pest control company treats a particular pest. They should know how the company plans to safely treat safely while inside different building types. Property managers should be completely sure that a company could handle their specific problem before committing to them.

Check into Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management is a specialized pest removal process that doesn’t just remove pestsIt uses knowledge, exclusionary measures, and reactive monitoring to treat current infestations while preventing future ones. 

Integrated pest management can be a more environmentally friendly, and effective way to handle pests than traditional approaches.  It provides long-term pest control that can save money and time down the road.

Cheapest is not Usually Best

Good property managers know how to work within a budget, and that’s true for pest control just like it is for everything else.  However, in most cases cheapest isn’t always best. When a pest control service is cheap, it might be because that’s the only way they have been able to create a name for themselves.   A cheap service becomes expensive if it’s needed over and over again.

Property managers need to find the perfect balance between affordability and quality work.  This will provide the best overall bang for the buck.

Choose a Company that can Answer Questions

Property managers should ask pest control companies about their techniques for specific vermin varieties. Don’t be afraid to call the companies being considered.  If they’re not willing to answer questions about their process, steer clear.

Image is a cartoon termite.

Culver City Votes Approve Measure C and Measure D in November Vote

Image is of a sign that reads "polling station."Culver City Real Estate area residents voted on two measures on Tuesday November 6, with both measures receiving a majority of yes votes by Wednesday morning. Martin Feinberg, Realtor, noted that 27 out of 27 precincts voted to approve Measure C and Measure D on Election Day.

Wednesday November 7 showed that Measure C—the Culver City Neighborhood Safety and City Services Protection Measure which amounted to a quarter-cent sales tax—received 8,266 “yes” votes and 3,560 “no” votes (69.9% and 30.1% respectively).

On Measure C, the City of Culver City website stated,”After declaring a fiscal emergency, the City Council has placed the Culver City Neighborhood Safety and City Services Protection measure on the November ballot to ensure the City can continue providing the current level of public services for residents. Measure C will require approval by a majority of those voting on the measure. All Measure C funds will be kept in Culver City.

Measure C, if approved, will raise funds to maintain the current level of public safety efforts–including 911 emergency response, firefighters, police officers and paramedics–and fund City services such as after school youth programs, senior services and street repairs.”

Like Measure C, Measure D also passed the voting test. Measure D—the Proposed Charter Amendment—received 9,160 “yes” votes and 1,987 “no” votes ((82.17% and 17.83% respectively).

According to Ballotpedia, a yes vote was “a vote in favor of changing the date of the city’s general elections from April of even-numbered years to the date of the statewide general election (November of even-numbered years).  This change will begin in 2020.

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg notes that Culver City residents also approved Measure K on November 7.  Measure K is a parcel tax put on the ballot by the Culver City Unified School District. It will allow the district to levy a parcel tax on property within the district’s jurisdiction.  The tax will last for seven years.

Image is a flag colored "vote" against a light blue background.

Keep Tenant Turnover from Ruining the Bottom Line

Image is a man standing in an empty room holding a stack of boxes.One of the main jobs of a professional property manager is to keep the properties they manage profitable by leasing to good tenants who consistently pay their rent on time, and keeping those tenants in the property as long as possible.  Tenant turnover—the time when a tenant leaves and a property or unit sits vacant—is an expensive challenge that can keep a property from being a lucrative investment.   Knowing how to prevent tenant turnover can make all the difference between a profitable rental property and one that costs more money to maintain than it makes.

Here are eleven ways to stop tenant turnover, deal with a tenant who is leaving, and get a new tenant into the property quickly.

  • Choose the right tenants. A good tenant screening process will help identify red flags and avoid problem tenants before they become problem renters. Also, don’t be afraid to ask how long a tenant plans to stay in the rental property.
  • Keep your property in good shape.The nicer the property, the more likely a tenant will want to stay. Keeping the lawn mowed, the landscaping pretty, and the property in good repair can make a difference in the tenant experience.  Property managers can also ask tenants directly what else they could be doing to make the property more livable.
  • Address any concerns or issues immediately. No property is perfect. Tenants are going to have issues, whether it’s an unpleasant neighbor or a broken dishwasher.   No matter what the issue is, property managers need to respond as quickly as possible.  Solutions won’t always be fast or simple but acknowledging the problem and working towards a solution will go a long way in most tenants’ eyes.
  • Be flexible. A property manager that can be a little flexible and understanding when life goes sideways for a tenant can actually help keep their property in the black in the long run.  A loss of a couple hundred dollars might seem like a lot, but it’s actually cheaper than dealing with a vacant unit.
  • Request ample notice. In most cases, tenant turnover will eventually happen, no matter how great the property or property manager is. Being prepared for this contingency can help limit the damage to the profit stream.  Property managers should require at least a month’s notice from tenants who are planning on leaving.  It might not always be possible but putting it in the lease can help.
  • Run a pre-vacancy inspection. Once a tenant plans to leave, property managers need to prepare for their departure. Before the tenant moves out property managers should run a pre-vacancy inspection.  This will help identify problem areas before the tenant is gone, and also help the manager know what they will be working with.
  • Work proactively. Don’t wait until the tenant is gone to start looking for new tenants. Be proactive, looking for potential occupants as soon as possible. This is especially important if the property manager has a lengthy screening process.
  • Update the property. The property can be updated even before the tenant is gone. New appliances, new additions, and new paint jobs can help a property look newer and more appealing to potential tenants.
  • Price your property appropriately. Once a property is vacant, a property manager needs to work full time to fill the vacancy. One important aspect of that process is to price the property appropriately. The property needs to stay profitable and be competitive but stay in a price range that will attract a lot of attention.
  • Use multiple channels. Professional property managers like Martin Feinberg will use many different strategies—such as paid advertising, social media, word-of-mouth, and classifieds—to get the word out about vacant properties.
  • Work quickly, but do your research. The sooner a vacant property is rented the better, but property managers can’t just lease to the first prospective tenant that comes along. It’s more important to find a good tenant than an easy one.

Image is a open house sign on a green lawn.

 

 

Culver City Firefighters sent to Assist with Woolsey Fire

Image is of firefighters silhouetted against a hill on fire.The Culver City Fire Department has been sent to assist first strike teams working on the Woolsey Fire. The Culver City Fire Department was originally sent to assist with the Hill Fire in Ventura County but was moved to the Woolsey Fire as the blaze grew.

Culver City engines 41 and 42 were deployed on November 8 to Ventura County and joined strike team XLA-1075A.  This strike team was comprised of firefighters from Culver City, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills.  After an hour on the Hill Fire XLA-1075A was one of many teams sent to help with Woolsey.

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that the Culver City firefighters’ main duties in assisting with the Woolsey fire were to clear brush and protect structures in Bell Canyon.

As most people are aware, the Woolsey Fire ignited last Thursday and has burned over 100,000 acres in southern California. As of this Tuesday, the Woolsey Fire continued to burn in Thousand Oaks and the northwest side of Malibu, though firefighters were making gains.  The entire city of Malibu had been evacuated by Tuesday morning, along with Bell Canyon, Oak Park, Topanga, Monte Nido, and a few others.

Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor was impressed to learn that Culver City Firefighters were spending as much as 48 hours at a time working to control the blaze, with high winds making the fire more volatile for most of the time.

Earlier in the week there was some fear among Culver City Real Estate area residents that the fire might reach the city but so far it has escaped any real danger. Culver City Fire Department officials have also assured citizens that the Woolsey Fire is not a threat.  Some Culver City firefighters remain in the area and were able to combat a small brush fire early Monday morning. Protecting Culver City still remains the main priority of the Culver City Fire Department.

Image is a line of Culver City Fire Department fire trucks.