What Do Rising Rents Mean for Investors?

House Icon Shows House Price Going UpThe cost of renting has fallen slightly in the last year among the top 25 largest rental markets, according to a report from Trulia this week. However, affordable listings are on the decline in metros such as Oakland and Orange County in California and Phoenix, Arizona.

In Oakland, for example, the share of affordable listings declined by nearly 20 percentage points year-over-year in April 2016 from 66.0 percent down to 46.2 percent, according to Trulia. Meanwhile, in metros such as New York City, Miami, and San Francisco, rents remained sky high—in San Francisco, nearly 91 percent of two-bedroom homes rented for more than $3,000 per month in April, and 63 percent of two-bedrooms rented for more than $4,000.

Are rising rents prompting renters to enter the housing markets as buyers? Some recent reports say they are—but this is not necessarily the case, according to Dennis Cisterna, CRO of Investability Real Estate, Inc.

“High rents are not necessarily driving people to homeownership,” Cisterna said. “While rents are increasing in markets like San Francisco, New York and Miami, the initial down payment to become a homeowner can be cost-prohibitive in areas where home values are high. It’s a delicate balance. You may have the right monthly income to be able to pay high rent, but you don’t have the cash on hand to make a down payment on a home in those markets.”

“High rents are not necessarily driving people to homeownership.”

Dennis Cisterna, CRO, Investability Real Estate, Inc.

The rising cost of rent has not caused the demand for single-family rental homes to shrink, according to Cisterna.

“It’s no secret that the single-family rental market has experienced serious growth over the past decade, and while we will probably see a stabilizing of the market, there is still strong demand,” Cisterna said. “Today, it’s not about diversification so much as it is about evolving and innovating to improve the investor experience through technology, market intelligence and services.”

Does the high cost of rents mean good news or bad news for investors in these markets?

“It really depends on the objectives of the investor,” Cisterna said. “Most cities with high rents also have high home prices, so while your annual cash flow may be low, the investor balances out the opportunity with an asset that is appreciating over time. That being said, investors should be cautious when investing in a property based on potential appreciation. The proposition of appreciation, regardless of the likelihood, is speculative in nature and carries with it a lesser degree of certainty than a property with strong in-place cash flow. Experienced investors practice identifying properties in stable markets with consistent demand. Variables like schools, crime, and local economies are big factors that impact property demand, values and rents—and can therefore indicate how an investor will bode in specific markets. Market data and property analysis tools have improved dramatically over the past several years, giving buyers better insight and transparency into their purchases.”

Source: dsnews.com


Uber Technologies Inc., the rapidly growing ride-hailing company valued at $68 billion, is expanding to the Peninsula.

The company has leased 140,000 square feet at 900 Arastradero Road at Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto, said a spokeswoman. The deal is a sublease with software company VMware and is the first time the company has taken Bay Area office space south of San Francisco.

The Uber spokeswoman declined to disclose pricing, but a source with knowledge of the building said the asking rent was $78 per square foot, slightly more expensive than the average Class A rent in San Francisco of $72 per square foot.

Uber’s real estate growth has given it one of the largest footprints among local tech tenants, and the Palo Alto expansion will be in addition to two other major projects.

The company purchased the 380,000-square-foot former Sears Building in Oakland last year, where it plans to house 2,000 to 3,000 employees. Uber also plans to break ground in the fall on its Mission Bay campus in partnership with Alexandria Real Estate Equities (NYSE: ARE). The company already has around half-a-million square feet leased in an existing office buildings along Market Street.

With the Palo Alto deal, Uber now has over 1 million square feet of real estate occupied or in the pipeline, and had 1,980 employees in San Francisco as of January, according to San Francisco Business Times research.

Uber’s move into Silicon Valley gives employees another commuting option as transit becomes an intensifying challenge for tech giants amid clogged highways and bridges. Having another outpost could give Uber a recruiting edge for workers who live in the Peninsula or Silicon Valley and don’t want to commute to San Francisco and Oakland. Uber has also hired aggressively in part by hiringengineers at Facebook and Google, and it will now have an office even closer to Menlo Park and Mountain View.

“We are excited to continue investing in our home base by opening a South Bay engineering office in the fall of 2016. This new office will allow us to to grow our teams and continue to attract world class engineering talent to make transportation as reliable as running water,” Thuan Pham, Uber’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Brokers Bart Lammersen and Gregg Walker of JLL represented VMware in the sublease, according to marketing materials. It wasn’t immediately clear if a broker represented Uber.

Stanford University owns 900 Arastradero Road, according to property records. Stanford’s department of real estate couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The Information first reported that Uber was close to a deal at Stanford Research Park.


Looking up to radiant ceilings for heating and cooling

by Lloyd Alter

radiant panel

CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter

Most North American homes are heated, cooled and ventilated with forced air. Some have radiant floors and almost none have radiant ceilings. In fact, many think that radiant ceilings can’t possibly work. After all, heat rises! We want warm feet, not a hot head! And cooling? It will be raining condensation!

Well, no. In fact, hydronic radiant ceilings, like these made by Italian manufacturer Messana, make a lot of sense, perhaps more sense than radiant floors and certainly more than forced air.

Most North American homes with forced air heating and cooling have hot and cold spots, noisy ductwork but are a very effective dust moving system. Most also get their fresh air through the leaky walls rather than any kind of controlled ventilation system. As houses get built to higher air tightness standards, proper management of ventilation becomes more important. As they get built with more insulation they need less heating and cooling. So it becomes logical to separate the ventilation from the heating and cooling, because really they are two different things with different requirements.

That’s when radiant heating and cooling becomes really interesting. But radiant floors have their own issues; as Alex Wilson noted in his book Your Green Home,, “it’s a great heating option for a poorly designed house…. For the radiant floor system to provide enough heat to feel warm underfoot (the feature everybody likes with this system) its going to be cranking out more heat than the well insulated house can use, and it will likely cause overheating.“

single panel© Messana Radiant Cooling

Radiant ceilings don’t have these problems because people are not usually in contact with the ceiling, so it can be radiating heat for warmth or absorbing it for cooling without problems of conduction. They also work just as well or better, because the operative word is radiant; as Robert Bean notes in Healthy Heating,

Radiant heating systems provide comfort by warming the interior surfaces which reduces the temperature difference between your clothing and skin and the interior surfaces which in turn reduces the loss of body heat via radiation. You see it’s not necessarily the radiant energy you are absorbing – it is the heat you are not losing which results in perceptions of comfort….Radiant cooling works in the opposite direction of heating by encouraging the loss of body heat via radiation…it is the loss of heat from your clothing and skin via radiation which provides the cool sensation.

And as long as the panel is kept above the dew point, there is no issue of condensation and raining in your room.

radiant panels© Messana Radiant Cooling

The Ray Magic from Messana is a lot easier to install than an underfloor system; it is a prefabricated system built behind a sheet of drywall. The pattern of the piping is printed on the facing paper so that installers don’t accidentally puncture the plastic tubing, which is installed in aluminum spreaders to heat the gypsum evenly. Special connectors snap the tubing in the panels together.

It is 1-1/2” thick with its EPS backing, so it actually has a great sound transmission coefficient on its own, much better than a sheet of drywall. And because it is on the ceiling, it can run hotter or cooler than a floor, typically up to 100°F for heating and 56°F for cooling, temperatures that would be really uncomfortable if you were standing on it.

panel pieices© Messana Radiant Cooling

There is also less thermal lag because gypsum board is a good conductor and not very thick; consultant Tom Tesmar notes:

Radiant ceilings accelerate fast, when needed, to meet a big change in heating load. They dissipate energy fast as well. The responsiveness of radiant ceilings makes them excellent for modern controls, placing energy where it is needed when it is needed, and achieving superior comfort and efficiency. Some high mass radiant floors are sluggish in that they take a long time to accelerate to meet the load.

He also says that radiant ceilings can cost half of what radiant floors cost, and notes that they are great for retrofits- “It is very inexpensive and easy to lower a ceiling to accommodate the radiant ceiling, but difficult to raise a floor.”

Mesanna also notes that their panel system “is an effective way of reducing labour costs compared to both forced air and radiant floor systems. Its installation is simple and straight: the job is done in no time at all.” That can certainly not be said for radiant floors.

Messana was exhibiting at the North American Passive House conference in New York, which makes some sense; Passive houses do not need a great deal of heat or cooling and a radiant floor would rarely turn on. But a few radiant panels in the ceiling might be enough to do the job nicely. However I suspect that it might do better in the pretty good house market, where a little more heating and cooling is needed. If one can get over the preoccupation with toasty toes, radiant ceilings seem to be a really interesting option.

Eminent domain floated to save Palo Alto mobile home park

Government officials are rolling out a dramatic new approach in their effort to save Palo Alto’s Buena Vista Mobile Home Park from closure: Eminent domain.

The tool could be used if the Jisser family — which owns the 4.5-acre property and has been trying to close it since 2012 — doesn’t accept a new offer to buy the park funded by Santa Clara County, the city of Palo Alto and the county’s Housing Authority, officials said Wednesday. That’s because the county and city have now joined forces with the Housing Authority, which has eminent domain power and signaled it’s agreeable to using it.

The move is likely to set off alarm bells among property-rights activists. Eminent domain is among the most controversial powers governments can employ. While it was once used in massive redevelopment projects (such as razing San Francisco’s Western Addition), today it’s mostly used to acquire property for public works projects such as roads, bridges or transit lines.

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The Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the Jissers, blasted the proposal in a blog post on Wednesday. Attorney Larry Salzman called it “outrageous” and “a shockingly immoral and unconstitutional threat.”

“The Jissers’ property is not for sale,” he wrote, adding later that “taking the Jissers’ private mobile home park and using that land to benefit private mobile home park tenants is not the kind of ‘public use’ that can authorize eminent domain under the California or U.S. Constitutions.”

The county and city had previously offered $14.5 million each to purchase the park, Palo Alto’s sole mobile home park. Those efforts never went anywhere.

“We know, of course, that last fall, negotiations to buy the Park stalled,” Katherine Harasz, executive director of the Housing Authority, said in a news release. “Once we have an appraisal and have finished due diligence, the Housing Authority Board will consider acquisition of the Park in an effort to keep these 400 families in their homes, including negotiation and, if necessary, eminent domain.”

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Could Microsoft/LinkedIn deal scramble tech real estate plans?

Redmond-based Microsoft Corp.’s blockbuster acquisition of Mountain View’s LinkedIn Corp. will unite two companies with major presences in Silicon Valley, including Mountain View’s North Bayshore. Which brings up an obvious question: What happens with their real estate, development plans and employee count here?

That’s the question city officials, competitors, brokers — and, obviously, workers — are asking themselves following the announcement on Monday of the $26.2 billion deal.

The question about LinkedIn’s continued presence and expansion in Mountain View’s North Bayshore is particularly interesting given that each company has major real estate expansion projects in the works.

At this point, it’s too early to know what the future holds for each company’s presence. But here’s one thing you can count on: Don’t expect a big move up to Redmond for LinkedIn.

“This acquisition will not affect LinkedIn’s or Microsoft’s office location strategies,” a Microsoft spokeswoman emailed in response to my inquiry. “As always, we will continue to regularly evaluate workforce needs, including the location of our work sites and facilities.” (A LinkedIn spokesman said essentially the same thing.)

That would jibe with a Microsoft statement that said LinkedIn will “retain its distinct brand, culture and independence.”

In a letter to employees, Weiner also suggested there would be very few layoffs. “Given our ability to operate independently, little is expected to change: You’ll have the same title, the same manager, and the same role you currently have,” he wrote. “The one exception: For those members of the team whose jobs are entirely focused on maintaining LinkedIn’s status as a publicly traded company, we’ll be helping you find your next play. In terms of everything else, it should be business as usual.”

Still, it’s common for firms to consolidate after an acquisition, said tech analystRob Enderle of the Enderle Group. “Generally with company acquisitions they leave the firm in place for the first several years before making a decision on whether to consolidate,” Enderle said in an email. “…I expect they won’t make any major changes until late 2017 or early 2018 at the soonest, and only if it makes sense in terms of site cost.”

He said he’d expect Microsoft would “avoid like the plague trying to get folks to relocate out of the Valley, as they would likely lose most of the top players in the process.”

City officials said they had not been told anything in regard to corporate real estate plans, which isn’t unusual for a deal that was just announced.

But interest will be high. Redmond-based Microsoft and Mountain View-based LinkedIn are both large employers in Silicon Valley, and both companies have reputations for being involved in their communities. Also, one reason Mountain View elected officials granted the lion’s share of North Bayshore’s available space to LinkedIn was to support “business diversity” in the Google-heavy city.

Microsoft had 1,668 employees in Mountain View in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, according to that city’s annual financial report. Most of them are based at Microsoft’s 515,000-square-foot campus in the North Bayshore. Microsoft workers in the Valley work on products including Xbox, Outlook.com, Skype and Yammer.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn had 1,228 workers in Mountain View, primarily at its leased Stierlin Court campus, also in North Bayshore, which is about 370,000 square feet.

Both companies also have sizable facilities in Sunnyvale. Microsoft leased 240,000 square feet in Sunnyvale in 2011 at Moffett Towers. LinkedIn has a clutch of buildings on North Mary and West Maude, including 605 W. Maude (150,000 square feet), 815 W. Maude (23,000 square feet), 845 W. Maude (to be 40,000 square feet at completion) and 580 N. Mary (125,000 square feet). Information on employee counts in Sunnyvale wasn’t available.

Microsoft and LinkedIn are also working on major ground-up real estate projects in Mountain View’s North Bayshore. Microsoft said in January that it plans to buy its campus (which it currently leases) and redevelop it in phases into a more modern, green-roofed campus of about 650,000 square feet. In May, Microsoft added to its property holdings in Mountain View, buying a 3.5 acre site for $15 million.

LinkedIn is planning what it calls “Shoreline Commons” — a massive headquarters project that would be 1.5 million square feet of office, 93,000 square feet of retail, a theater, athletic club and hotel at the gateway to North Bayshore. (LinkedIn recently signaled it was willing to add housing on the site as well.) LinkedIn is developing that project in partnership with SyWest Development, which owns some of the real estate. (LinkedIn acquired the key parcel in late 2014 for $79 million.) The project is only possible because city leaders favored LinkedIn over Google in the hotly contested “Battle for North Bayshore” ( read more here).

SyWest’s Bill Vierra didn’t return a phone call on Monday.

Separately, LinkedIn signed a lease for 400,000 square feet of office space at the second phase of Merlone Geier’s San Antonio Center, which is now under construction, in Mountain View.

The big speculative question is what happens with Shoreline Commons; its massive size was penciled out before LinkedIn’s stock tumbled badly earlier this year, and some observers were already wondering whether the company would ever need that much space. (If it didn’t, you can bet that Google would be first in line to snap up the space.)

But a LinkedIn spokesman confirmed to me on Monday that development for Shoreline Commons would continue just like normal. (The project’s approval was originally slated to go before the city council in June, but it was recently delayed — before the Microsoft announcement — to a time yet to be determined.)

Still, LinkedIn has shown to be flexible in its real estate plans. It leased 600,000 square feet from Kilroy Realty in 2012, then subleased most of it to Apple in 2014; it also grabbed a 100,000-square-foot sublease in Los Altos from Box only to put that space on the market last year.

From a real estate perspective, LinkedIn has always had to fight to slice of Mountain View or Sunnyvale, and was in several cases blown out of the water in deals by competing offers from Google. In a letter to employees, LinkedIn CEO likened the acquisition to a transformational event for the company that would propel it to the big time.

“Imagine a world where we’re no longer looking up at Tech Titans such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, and wondering what it would be like to operate at their extraordinary scale — because we’re one of them,” Weiner wrote.

How Landlords Are Fighting Back Against the World’s Filthiest Tenants

facebook wowIt isn’t hard to find lots of disturbing news stories about sleazy landlords—you know, the ones who turn off the heat in the dead of winter and water in the dog days of summer, and haven’t fixed or painted anything since the Ford presidency. And social media is rife with tenants complaining about such unscrupulous behavior. But what happens when the shoe’s on the other foot and it’s the renters who are causing trouble?

A new Facebook page called Disgusting Renters is giving embattled property owners their own space to vent frustrations about unsanitary tenants who leave their rental apartments looking like crime scenes, natural disasters, or special “Director’s Cut” episodes of “Hoarders.”

The page, which may prompt sensitive readers to don hazmat suits just for viewing purposes, is filled with photographic evidence of the stomach-curdling filth and grime left behind by these odoriferous occupants.

Created in April, the page already has more than 2,400 likes and dozens of vivid posts. Here are a few of the highlights (or is it lowlights?), carefully (and euphemistically) described to not completely gross you out, dear reader:

  • A photo of a kitchen with a recliner in the middle of it, amid a several-foot-high selection of snack bags, empty soda cans, and even less palatable trash.
  • A picture, simply titled “Wow,” showing a former yard taken over by any number of coolers, construction pails, and what appears to be a partly functioning aquarium.
  • bare mattress atop a soiled wooden floor with this description: “Bird feces all over the floor. The smell is horrendous.”
  • An artfully shot photograph of hundreds of roaches swarming over a bathroom wall and toilet.

OK, we’ll stop right there. Sorry if we went too far with that last one.

The page was created by Milton, FL, landlord Craig Morgan, 47, after the mobile home he and his wife rented out was trashed by his tenants, a couple and their kids.

“It was horrible: bird feces, dog urine, dog feces,” he told ABC affiliate Weartv.com. (We’re sensing a pattern here.) “Trash left all over the floors, front porch.”

He told realtor.com® the flea-infested home had to be gutted and was sold last month at a $25,000 loss.

“I’m not doing any more rentals,” says Morgan, who owns a barn building business. “That sealed it for me and my wife.”

He urges other landlords to take precautions to make sure things like that don’t happen to them.

This is often easier said than done, especially for regular folks renting out a spare room or an investment home, says Stephen White, CEO of RentPrep, a Buffalo, NY–based company that provides background checks for landlords.

Potential tenants should be screened as carefully as possible before they move in, he recommends (not surprisingly given his line of work). Landlords should also check on the properties at least twice a year to make sure everything is as it should be and the tenants aren’t, say, rat collectors.

“Check the condition of the premises to catch conditions early before it’s too late,” White says. “The worst-case scenarios we see are infestations or things that have been let go for way too long.” He even describes a testing kit available to ensure that there are no working meth labs on the property.

The longer a problem goes unattended, the more it often costs to fix. And getting rid of horrible tenants can be extremely difficult as the eviction process can be both lengthy and expensive.

In the worst-case scenarios, landlords should consider offering problem tenants cash—usually recommended to be about a month’s rent—to get the hell out. And particularly embattled property owners can even add a cash bonus if the renters don’t do any further damage, such as flushing concrete down the toilet (true story).

“You don’t want to reward bad behavior, but at some point you have to stop the damage and try to minimize your losses,” White says.

Source: realtor.com

– See more at: http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/landlord-quick-tips/landlords-fighting-back-worlds-filthiest-tenants/#sthash.mT9q7C6A.dpuf

How Landlords Can Manage Troublesome Tenants in Their Investment Property

41746709_sBy Carolyn Parrella –

Attracting the wrong type of tenant can make or break an investment experience for landlords. While bad tenants are the minority, they can cause major headaches for landlords. Tenants can become troublesome when they fail to pay their rent on time, break the lease agreement or cause damage to the rental property.

Bad tenants may leave investors out of pocket, so it’s important to try to minimize the risk of malicious damage and loss of rental income.

Regular property inspections

Regular inspections are essential to ensure the tenant is looking after the property. Regular inspections can make it easier for landlords to quickly identify if and when any damage to the property has occurred, whether there are any maintenance issues that need attention or if there are any concerns that may pose a legal liability threat.

Any issues identified should be dealt with promptly to send a clear message to the tenant that you care about the property and value their concern for its condition. If a tenant’s requests for repairs go unanswered they may begin to question their own commitment to the property and become more careless about it.

Good relationship with tenant

Maintaining a positive relationship with your tenant can help to ensure they remain cooperative throughout their lease agreement.

Listening and carefully considering requests for changes to lease conditions and responding quickly to queries or concerns helps build rapport. Requests to change lease conditions should be carefully considered and if rejected, sound reasons should be provided in writing.

Where routine maintenance needs to be undertaken, working with the tenant to determine the best time for the work to be undertaken is also good practice.

Troublesome tenants may avoid communicating with landlords, if they haven’t been looking after the property or paying their rent on time. This should send warning bells to landlords that there could be issues with the tenancy and they should act promptly.

Enforce lease agreement

Having a clear lease agreement in place may help to ensure tenants are meeting their obligations.

Lease agreements can be tailored to meet specific needs and may include pet or smoking policies.

Landlords should regularly check and enforce their lease agreement to ensure tenants are doing the right thing. Tenants should be made aware of any breaches to the lease agreement, while landlords should deal with the breach promptly to minimize any risk to the property.

Deliver notices on time

If a tenant falls behind in their rent, the sooner you know about it, the sooner you can attempt to resolve the issue and mitigate any financial loss.

Even if you are aware that your tenant is suffering from financial hardship, it’s still important to send breach notices on time and according to regulations.

If you delay sending the notices and you later have to make an insurance claim for loss of rent, your claim may be reduced.

In the first instance, a breach notice should be sent to the tenant for non-payment of rent and arrears should be monitored daily until the tenant pays their rent or the issue is dealt with accordingly.

Tailored landlord insurance

Despite your best efforts to attract and retain suitable tenants, there are still risks associated with owning a rental property.

Even the best tenant can accidently damage a property or endure financial hardship leaving them unable to pay rent. Specialised landlord insurance is essential and can provide cover for landlords should an unforeseen insurable event occur.

Landlord insurance policies can provide cover for malicious and accidental damage, loss of rental income and the landlord’s legal liability.

Source: yourmortgage.com

– See more at: http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/tenant-screening/landlords-can-manage-troublesome-tenants-investment-property/#sthash.zJrzLSju.dpuf