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DocuSign passes Zillow’s market cap, and NAR is reaping the rewards

Inmannews - 2 hours 13 min ago
DocuSign, the cloud-based electronic signature platform, is skyrocketing in value and even overtook real estate tech giant Zillow Group in valuation, according to public stock data from Yahoo. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is reaping the reward of the prudent investment.
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The ‘Compass Effect’ is creating chaotic Gulf War-like battlefield

Inmannews - 2 hours 27 min ago
Suddenly, like the Persian Gulf, real estate has become antagonistic and fiercely competitive, with major forces colliding and jockeying to reshape the landscape.
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How a small Minnesota brokerage is using Opendoor to its advantage

Inmannews - 3 hours 28 min ago
A Minnesota boutique indie is jumping into the iBuyer game — not armed with the capital of companies like Zillow, Knock, Redfin and Offerpad — but with a partner in Opendoor.
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Zillow dragged into the spotlight after lawyer tries to use it to prove Brett Kavanaugh’s innocence

Inmannews - 4 hours 39 min ago
A theory posted on Twitter by a lawyer trying to prove the innocence of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has taken on a life of it's own, with Zillow taking center stage.
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Luxury Connect: Learn how to build a luxury brand at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Inmannews - 5 hours 20 min ago
Join us for an exclusive activity only as part of Luxury Connect in October.
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Zillow’s CEO is bullish on blockchain

Inmannews - 5 hours 31 min ago
Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff believes that the latter technology, a broad term for online ledger systems that can be used to keep track of all sorts of information, will prove as important as the internet itself.
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Third of top HUD appointees have no housing policy experience

Inmannews - 5 hours 51 min ago
A slew of political appointees at HUD have been found to have no housing policy experience, but instead worked on campaigns for Donald Trump or Ben Carson.
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Why are all these multiple listing services teaming up?

Inmannews - 7 hours 50 min ago
The founding MLSs are Arizona Regional MLS, Metro MLS in Wisconsin, MLSListings in Silicon Valley, RMLS in Oregon and UtahRealEstate.com, which have nearly 95,000 agent and broker subscribers combined.
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The Inman Weekender, September 22-23, 2018

Inmannews - 8 hours 24 min ago
The week's top real estate industry stories, and practical advice to use this weekend.
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Long and Foster launches ‘Coming Soon’ service for pre-market listings

Inmannews - 8 hours 44 min ago
Long & Foster sales associates can now access a new online portal to see properties before they hit local multiple-listing services, and receive alerts.
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The secret to growing your business 10x in one year

Inmannews - 14 hours 5 min ago
To have a successful real estate business, you must establish yourself as a niche real estate service provider. In fact, focusing on a micro-niche is the best way to guarantee referrals and double your sales in 12 months. Here's how to do just that.
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3 ways agents can become the ‘digital mayor’ for their neighborhood

Inmannews - 14 hours 22 min ago
Meet three agents who are killin' it in everything from local content marketing to social media influencing and everything in between. Learn how they leverage video, Instagram, landing pages and more to rake in the business without old-school brand promotion.
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Real estate guru who defrauded investors to bankroll slasher flick and fleet of Ferraris found guilty

Inmannews - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 5:14pm
Following three days of deliberation, Koerber, who at one time held $7,000 real estate seminars, was found guilty on 15 counts of fraud.
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Amazon unveils new Echo devices, Alexa microwave

Inmannews - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 4:24pm
Your might soon be hearing a lot more from Alexa around your house. On Thursday, Amazon unveiled a range of new and redesigned smart home gadgets with its popular virtual voice assistant.
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Real estate photographer sues Zillow for copyright infringement

Inmannews - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 2:17pm
A California photographer of high-end properties says his contract with agents is 'not transferrable and prohibits third party use without permission.' Zillow says his claims are without merit.
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Preview: Exclusive video interview with NYC brokerage leaders

Inmannews - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:15pm
Bess Freedman, co-president of Brown Harris Stevens; Clelia Peters, president of Warburg Realty and co-founder of MetaProp; and Steven James, CEO of Douglas Elliman New York will be interviewed by RealScout CEO Andrew Flachner about their new joint-effort, the Buyer Graph.
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A Smarter Approach to Property Management

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 12:53pm

One of the biggest issues managers of large property holdings encounter is the lack of a clear line-of-sight into the assets within their property portfolio. This lack of clarity can affect anyone from individual investors with a handful of properties in their portfolio, all the way up to institutional owners such as Fannie Mae and Ameritrust.

Owners of portfolios of properties often do not have an up-to-date status of the equipment on their properties, and this makes it difficult to plan and prioritize for their upkeep and repair.

In turn, poorly planned repair and replacement jobs on “behind-the-wall” assets such as HVAC systems, electrical systems, and plumbing can lead to bloated maintenance expenses. However, these can be pared down with asset tracking and planned replacements. Performing planned replacements during the lower-cost offseason, rather than performing expensive emergency repairs during the peak heating or cooling seasons, can make all the difference.

Asset tagging or tracking—the logging of age, model, and warranty status of services—helps owners know what systems are most likely to fail and then plan their budgets accordingly.

An asset-tagging project typically involves a contractor or technician going into a property and labeling existing behind-the-wall assets with a unique identifier, which can then be scanned and logged by the technician via a mobile application.

To use HVAC as an example, once asset data is gathered on all properties of a portfolio, a 360 profile is built showing the brands of the equipment, efficiency/SEER ratings, tonnage, the types of refrigerant used, and the condition of the equipment. Once the data is collected, a report is generated that shows the overall health of a given property and the portfolio as a whole.

Additionally, the technology can be merged with home automation solutions such as smart thermostats to provide additional benefits such as remote monitoring of an entire portfolio of properties, managing heating, and cooling efficiency.

With this asset report in hand, the property owner or investor then is able to optimize their capital expenditure with planned replacements, avoiding both fluctuations in HVAC equipment prices and labor costs.


Source: dsnews.com

The post A Smarter Approach to Property Management appeared first on AAOA.

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In unlikely alliance, PhRMA sides with landlords in Calif. referendum on rent control

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 12:51pm

SAN FRANCISCO — The pharmaceutical industry’s most powerful lobbying group is opening its war chest to try to sway a policy fight with no clear connection to medicine or health care, spending a half-million dollars here to oppose a California ballot measure that would expand rent control protections across the state.

PhRMA’s contribution is unusual not for its size — $500,000 is a relatively small sum for the trade association — but because the group typically only involves itself in policy issues likely to impact its bottom line. In this fight, it is siding with landlords, developers, and real estate investors, mainly in California but with some headquartered in other states; PhRMA is the only large donor opposing the measure without ties to the housing industry.

The group says that it’s getting involved in the ballot measure at stake, called Proposition 10, because it fears passage could make housing harder to find for the nearly 900,000 employees who work in biopharma in the state. Some economists have expressed concern that it could discourage the construction of new housing and make life harder for low-income renters in the long-term.

But some people here suspect that PhRMA is using its financial clout to settle an old political score with Michael Weinstein, a longtime HIV/AIDS activist who has repeatedly tangled with the drug industry, most recently by bankrolling a set of state-level ballot measures aimed at capping drug prices.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which Weinstein leads as president, has provided the vast majority of the financial backing for Proposition 10: over $12 million, according to the latest campaign finance disclosures. The nonprofit, which runs clinics across the globe, sees housing policy as key to promoting health, saying the measure would prevent displacement and expand protections for low-income renters in a state with few affordable housing options.

And as Weinstein sees it, PhRMA’s involvement looks like payback.

“They consider us an enemy, and they have unlimited money to spend on anything they want,” he said in a phone interview with STAT. “It’s preposterous for them to say they have an interest in this issue.”

He added, with an air of disbelief: “It’s a very strange coincidence.”

Dr. Adams Dudley, director of the Center for Healthcare Value at the University of California, San Francisco, said he thinks “it’s hard to imagine that [PhRMA’s] stated reason is plausible.”

The more plausible explanation, as Dudley sees it, is that PhRMA is “sending a signal: If you get on our bad side, we’ll keep opposing whatever you do, we’ll try to make your life difficult for a very long time, even if you do something else.”

Whether or not it accounts for PhRMA’s involvement in Proposition 10, the drug industry’s distaste for Weinstein is easy to explain. He has sued GlaxoSmithKline over its prices, Pfizer over its marketing, and Gilead over its patents.

In the past few years, Weinstein has further angered drug makers — and even a number of patient advocates — by funding ballot measures in California, Ohio, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia that would have prevented state and local health authorities from paying more for drugs than the discounted price the Department of Veterans Affairs received. None of them has succeeded.

The most significant such push came in 2016 in California, where drug makers contributed a record-setting $109 million to oppose the measure. PhRMA itself didn’t contribute cash, but it did log an additional $650,000 in non-monetary contributions, a category that includes labor and services. In that fight, the drug industry found allies in the California Medical Association and a surprising number of patient groups, including some that have taken money from pharmaceutical companies; they called the measure flawed, saying it would have failed to bring drug prices down for most Californians.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation brought in Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to stump for the measure, but voters defeated it by a 53-47 margin in the election that sent President Trump to the White House.

In 2017, Weinstein tried again in Ohio with a nearly identical ballot measure, where the drug industry — and over 79 percent of voters — opposed it. And in the lead-up to the 2018 general election, PhRMA has won legal challenges in South Dakota and D.C. that prevented similar measures from even reaching the ballot.

Despite its rich history with Weinstein, PhRMA denied the contributions had anything to do with past political entanglements.

“The research-based biopharmaceutical industry supports nearly 900,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in economic output in California,” PhRMA spokeswoman Priscilla VanderVeer said in a statement. “The industry’s investment in the state is threatened when our employees cannot find housing and Prop. 10 could make the situation much worse. That’s why we are opposing Prop. 10 and contributing to its defeat.”

The opposition to Proposition 10 in California this election season has so far raised more than $20 million. While the largest donors opposing Proposition 10 are in the housing industry, a political action committee backed by the California Business Roundtable is also pledging to defeat it. The group’s members include several real estate developers as well as the drug makers Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Proposition 10 is not the first time PhRMA has waded into local housing policy — nor is it the first time it’s opposed the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in such a fight.

In 2017, Weinstein was the driving force behind Measure S, a local ballot measure in Los Angeles County that would have tightened zoning laws in an effort to prevent new market-rate construction. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation provided almost all of the $5 million funding to support it, saying the proposed law would prevent displacement.

But just like with Proposition 10, critics countered by calling the measure anti-development and saying it would freeze the city’s efforts to lower prices by expanding its housing supply. PhRMA contributed $25,000 to the opposition to Measure S. And in what has become a familiar result for Weinstein-backed initiatives, the measure failed by a 30-70 margin.

In that same March 2017 municipal election in Los Angeles County, PhRMA contributed $10,000 to support a separate referendum, called Measure H. Voters passed the measure, which levied a 0.25 percent sales tax increase to fund mental health, housing, and other services for the homeless.

PhRMA says its contributions to local efforts surrounding housing, homelessness, and urban development may not be directly related to the business of manufacturing pharmaceuticals but are important to the industry nonetheless.

Just about everyone agrees that California is in the midst of a housing crisis. As the state’s coastal economies boom, construction of new homes and apartment buildings isn’t keeping pace. The result: Residents are paying more for monthly rent, commuting longer distances to work, and packing into increasingly cramped quarters.

“That something has to be done is already pretty well established,” said Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College in Silicon Valley. “The question is whether rent control is the answer — or whether will it make things worse.”

Proposition 10 would repeal a state law enacted in 1995 that limits the type of rent restrictions local governments can impose. Its passage would allow local governments to impose rent control more freely, giving them a tool housing advocates say could go a long way toward preventing evictions and rapid gentrification.

Expanded rent control, however, is not seen as a slam-dunk win for affordable housing advocates, and opponents argue it could discourage new construction.

The measure is dividing California’s opinion makers, in some cases along party lines. The state’s Democratic Party has endorsed the measure, while its Republican Party opposed it. The state’s major newspapers are split, too: The editorial boards of the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee have come out in favor of the measure; those of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News have opposed it.

How Proposition 10 fares in November will come to down to a few factors, Michelson said. One is how effective the opposition’s ads prove to be in sowing doubts in the minds of voters that the measure is flawed. And another is whether progressive voters come out in full force to pass the measure as part of a blue wave.

Regardless of what California voters decide, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is expected to continue prioritizing the affordable housing issue.

The group last year created a new division called the Healthy Housing Foundation. The offshoot, designed to provide affordable housing, has acquired four hotel properties on Los Angeles’ Skid Row and in Hollywood, altogether totaling more than 600 units. It’s also planning of the construction of 680 units in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Said Weinstein: “We’ve jumped in whole-hog into this issue, because it’s a crisis of the kind that we confronted at the beginning of AIDS, which was a vulnerable population whose needs were being ignored.”


Source: statnews.com

The post In unlikely alliance, PhRMA sides with landlords in Calif. referendum on rent control appeared first on AAOA.

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FTC shuts down real estate websites that allegedly preyed on Section 8 renters

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 12:34pm

The Federal Trade Commission shut down a series of real estate websites that allegedly targeted Section 8 voucher recipients and falsely promised “exclusive” access to rental listings in exchange for a monthly or weekly subscription fee.

According to the FTC, two brothers, Steven and Kevin (Kaveh) Shayan, owned four companies and operated a series of real estate websites that offered prospective renters “hundreds of thousands of accurate, up-to-date, and available listings” if they paid a fee to access the listings, when the opposite was allegedly the case.

The FTC claims that the Shayan brothers’ companies, Apartment HuntersReal Estate Data SolutionsRental Home Listings, and UAB Apartment Hunters, and their websites, WeTakeSection8.comApartmentHunterz.com, and FeaturedRentals.com, actually offered out-of-date listings, including many that did not accept Section 8 vouchers as promised.

“Today’s housing market is historically tight, and affordable rentals are harder to find than ever. Section 8 voucher recipients have it even harder: they have fewer rentals from which to choose and their vouchers expire if not used within a specified period of time,” said Andrew Smith, the FTC’s director of the bureau of consumer protection.

“In this case, we allege that defendants misled consumers—including Section 8 voucher recipients—into purchasing subscriptions to worthless lists of stale apartment listings, and the consumers then wasted their valuable time shopping for rentals that were not in fact available,” Smith added.

According to the FTC, the websites charged $49 for two months of access to contact information for the property managers of the rental listings on the sites, and $14.99 for a weekly subscription.

For those fees, renters were promised access to rental listings that weren’t available on other free listings sites, but the FTC alleged that those claims were “misleading, false, or unsubstantiated.”

The FTC also claims that WeTakeSection8.com falsely claimed to have access to listings that would accept Section 8 vouchers, which are used by low-income families, elderly, and disabled persons to gain access to affordable housing.

From the FTC’s complaint:

Defendants charge consumers a fee to access contact information for property managers of rental units listed on their websites. Defendants represent to consumers that the listings on their websites are accurate, up-to-date, and available, that consumers are likely to find suitable housing within a short time, and that consumers cannot find these listings on free websites. These representations are misleading, false, or unsubstantiated.

For example, the majority of the listings on WeTakeSection8.com are not available for rent, and most of those units that are available for rent do not accept Section 8 payments. Consumers lose money and valuable time because of Defendants’ deceptive marketing.

The FTC also noted that the California Department of Real Estate revoked Apartment Hunters’ business license in 2015, but the company has continued to operate since then without a license.

At the request of the FTC, a federal court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Shayan brothers and their four companies and their associated real estate sites from making false claims in the marketing of rental listings.


Source: housingwire.com

The post FTC shuts down real estate websites that allegedly preyed on Section 8 renters appeared first on AAOA.

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How Investors Get Burned Following the 2% Rule in Low-Income Neighborhoods

American Apartment Owners Association - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 12:30pm

As a new investor, I lost a stunning amount of money on low-end properties.

On paper, the numbers look gorgeous: “I can charge $1,000 in rent for a $30,000 property?! What can go wrong?”

A lot, it turns out. But these costs are not always obvious, and even when they are, they’re not always politically correct to talk about.

The “2% Rule” claims that a property that rents for more than 2% of the purchase price is usually a good deal. But these sorts of shorthand rules can be deadly, especially for new investors. I touched on this as one of the 7 Lessons I Wish I’d Known When I Started Investing, and it’s worth a closer look.

Here’s how low-end real estate can end up ravaging investors and how to avoid losing your shirt.

A Tale of Two Properties

These numbers may look imaginary, but they’re actually rounded versions of real properties I’ve owned.

  • Francis Street (or “Francis” for short): The purchase price and closing costs totaled roughly $15,000, and it needed around $25,000 in repairs ($40,000 for the non-mathematically-inclined). It’s in a rough neighborhood and rents for $1,000/month.
  • Chester Street (henceforth “Chester”): With a purchase price and closing costs of $160,000, Chester needed roughly $15,000 in repairs ($175,000 total). Young professionals live in this neighborhood, and Chester rents for $2,000/month.

At first glance, you could buy nearly four and a half Francises for the price of one Chester and earn over double the cash flow. You could also diversify your investments, with four or five properties spread across different neighborhoods rather than all that capital tied up in one property.

But here’s the thing—cash flow involves a lot more than just the cost of the property and the rent.

Cash Flow & The Real Cost of Ownership

There are entire articles, entire chapters in books devoted to how to calculate cash flow properly. We’re just going to hit the highlights here.

Cash flow is not rent minus mortgage. Beyond the principal and interest of the mortgage payment, here are just a few of the most common costs:

  • Property taxes
  • Insurance
  • Vacancy rate
  • Property management fees
  • Maintenance
  • Repairs (turnover costs)
  • CapEx (capital expenditures)

There are other costs that sometimes apply. For example, some properties have homeowners’ association or condominium fees. But you get the idea.

These costs are almost always higher for low-end properties in “tough” neighborhoods. The vacancy rate for Francis is a whopping 20%. But Chester’s vacancy rate? A mere 4%. That’s a difference of five times.

It doesn’t stop at vacancy rate, either. The last time Chester turned over, there was zero damage. The renters were attentive in patching the nail holes from their decorations and even painted over the patch marks. Floors, kitchen, bathrooms? Clean as a whistle. Chester needed about two hours’ worth of work on my part to get the house ready for the next tenant to move in.

The last tenants at Francis left the property needing $9,000 in repairs. New paint throughout. New carpets throughout. Damage to the cabinets. Filthy bathrooms. Abandoned trash (some of it bulk trash and furniture) littered throughout. Broken bannister spindles. The list goes on.

The Higher Costs of Lower-End Properties

Those tenants at Francis had to be evicted because they stopped paying the rent. So, in addition to the $9,000 in damage, they also cost $5,000 in unpaid rent, legal fees, and court fees.

But it doesn’t stop at the higher risk of rent defaults. Once Francis was vacant, it was broken into by junkies for use as a drug den. We had to call the cops, then board it up. Needles, used condoms, and mostly-empty 40-oz. bottles were strewn all over the floor. It was subsequently broken into again (presumably by the same junkies). I had to board it up again, this time with special screws with a non-standard head.

Francis is inside city limits, where the property tax rate is double the surrounding county’s tax rate. Even though Chester is assessed at a much higher value, its property tax bill is only marginally higher than Francis’s.

Regulation is much higher in cities as well. That means more inspections, more work orders from the city government, more registration fees, more headaches. Chester has never once had a city inspector walkthrough, nor does it need them. It’s in pristine shape because the renters keep it that way. Francis has had plenty of inspectors come through, and they never fail to slap me with work orders. Why? Am I a slumlord who leases out a ramshackle, falling down building? Of course not. But most of my renters have abused the living heck out of the property.

The insurance premium is also higher for Francis. It doesn’t matter that the policy is for a far lower coverage amount; statistically, there are many more insurance claims in these low-end areas. (Look no further than the break-in above for an example of why.)

We’ve touched on the financial costs of crime, but that doesn’t cover the personal safety risk. When I was 24, I thought I was tough and brave walking through these bad neighborhoods. Now I look at the violent crime rates in those neighborhoods and wonder, “What was I thinking?”

Here’s another question for you: What kind of property managers accept the lower commissions and greater labor involved in managing low-end properties? Usually bad property managers. I lost nearly $40,000 due to my last property manager. His casual indifference to my properties’ performance was staggering.

Riches in Niches—If You Know What You’re Doing

That $40,000 property, Francis, has ended up costing me closer to $100,000 over the last decade. It’s been a thorn in my side and a constant source of stress.

All the while, Chester has purred along smoothly, with clean, respectful renters who pay their rent on time every month. They leave it just as they found it. When a turnover comes along (far less frequently than at Francis), there’s no shortage of prospects eager to sign a lease with me.

Is all this candid talk comparing low-income neighborhoods to middle-class neighborhoods making you uncomfortable? Good. Perhaps if we had a more candid conversation about the problems plaguing low-end neighborhoods, we might make more progress in solving them. In my experience, the first people to reflexively defend low-income neighborhoods are the last people to invest their own money there.
Buying and managing rental properties in bad neighborhoods can be a lucrative niche for investors who know what they’re doing. It comes with dozens of risks, each of which must be mitigated. Understanding how to mitigate those risks takes experience and usually some hard knocks. Even Nakeisha Turner, who has aggressively invested in low-income neighborhoods surrounding HBCUs, has learned some hard lessons.

If you’ve done a handful of deals and have started gaining a firm grip on how to forecast cash flow, you can always ease your way into lower-end properties by gradually buying lower-cost properties.

But take it from someone who’s been burned countless times: Low-end properties come with higher risks than you realize.


Source: biggerpockets.com


The post How Investors Get Burned Following the 2% Rule in Low-Income Neighborhoods appeared first on AAOA.

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