Being a Good Landlord – Gave Movies

Be Thankful

I rent out a few apartments in Philadelphia. Each year around the holidays I try and do something to show appreciation to the tenants. They could have selected other properties, but they chose mine. They have treated the apartments with respect and have made them good homes. I am grateful.

This year I went to the movie theater and picked up tickets. It’s a simple gesture. A way to say thanks. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

An 84 year-old German Buddhist tenant

One of my tenants is an 84 year-old Buddhist woman from Germany. She has lived in her apartment here for more than half of my life. Looking back at my buying of the building, she was one of many reasons I wanted the property. She, on fixed income, would not be able to afford increased rent and more likely would be evicted straight-away (if someone else bought the building).

She’s proud of not being late on the rent for sixteen years and is one of those ideal persons you would want to have as a neighbor. She’s become a wonderful character in my wife’s and my lives.

We lived downstairs from her while we renovated an apartment there, and out of the blue she left a can of salmon treats for our cat. The next month we reciprocated by giving her a large gift basket close to Christmas. I give all my tenants gifts of some sort around Christmas – usually movie tickets – but she doesn’t get out much and something for home was better.

When we came home the next day there were bottles of sake and raspberry brandy at the door. She wasn’t sure what kind of alcohol we’d like, so she hedged and covered as much culture as she could with two bottles.

She called a couple weeks ago about a leaky faucet in the bathroom. She’s consistently worried about bothering us when she calls and often apologizes for doing so at the end of the call.

I’ve been working some intense projects at Ingram Digital, so my first opportunity to visit was today to see what I could do about the sink. She explained that professionals who tried to fix it over the years had described the faucet as not fixable.

The plumbers and contractors were right. The faucet can not be repaired, and replacement of only the faucet requires replacement of the sink, too. To correct the problem requires disconnecting the faucet fittings and the drain, removing the sink from the wall, installation of a new pedestal sink, installation of a new faucet, and then reconnection of the fittings and drain. Bummer!

Tomorrow I’m installing a new sink and faucet. I hope she likes it.

UPDATE: paragraphs of sugarcoated fluff snipped/removed from this post

Philadelphia Real-Estate – Rent and Purchase Prices

Today we went for some property tours close to Center City in the Callowhill area (between Spring Garden and the Vine Street Expressway and between Broad and Columbus).

If you think rents and purchase prices are tumbling everywhere, you might be mistaken. Philadelphia is still a good buy and has great rent vs. buy ratios (coming from my Californian perspective).

A video tour of a property…Continue Reading

Visiting National Mechanics – Geek Dinner, August 5th

If you haven’t been to National Mechanics, you need to go. In fact, you should go this Thursday at 7:00pm so you can join the Philadelphia Geek Dinner first meetup (RSVP on Upcoming). I got to spend some time hanging with Jason, an owner of the place, and I’m stoked this is the kick-off location.

For starters, Jason isn’t a restaurateur by trade. He’s a developer and entrepreneur who has helped build WebLinc. While you’re here you’re right under a star Philadelphia company.

When I dropped by, Philadelphia’s Fox News was filming a 1-year follow-up to National Mechanics winning the “Trendiest Bar” award.

Sweat Equity

Joke's on me...

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on real estate – Lately been hearing a lot of people talking on the subject of short-sales, and I’m trying to digest some of the numbers. The NAR (National Association of Realtors) is describing 18% of homes on the market as being upside down (the owner owes more on the property than he or she could sell it for). I feel for the those in this situation.

A big curiosity is how the upside down sales are distributed. 18% is the average, which means there are big swings around the country. Along the Central Coast of California (San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Morro Bay, etc), it’s roughly 50%… But in many locations that are still undervalued, prices still rise.

This is what I’ve been thinking and talking to people about when the topic of real estate comes up. Not many dinner conversations go by without hitting on this topic.

Anyway, the reason I’m on the topic of real estate in this post is because I spent all weekend remodeling… Well, thinking about Facebook applications, Google Social, and other apps while remodeling… Phew!

The raw brick before a frame

We gutted the 2nd bedroom Continue Reading