rental (10)

I am a realtor and a Santa Cruz rental property investor since 2000. There are many reasons to invest in Santa Cruz rental properties, some of which I have discussed in this article. Today I want to talk about what the pros and cons are in renting to UCSC students. 


Here are the pros that I have experienced.

1. Vacancies are virtually non existent: There are almost $18,000 UCSC students and in any given year there is only room to house about 8,000 of them on campus. There are always many thousands of students looking for a place to rent, so the potential pool leaves no vacancies in your Santa Cruz investment rental properties.


2. Students pay more money:  They frequently will pay more per bedroom and sleep 2-3 in a room just to have a place to stay. Here is a link to what students expect to pay from the UCSC community housing page.


3. The rent money is very secure: The students get financial aid and/or are supported by their parents. In 17 years and 4 rental properties as a Santa Cruz rental home investor I have only had a problem getting paid once.


4. UCSC makes the rental process very easy for a Santa Cruz rental investor: They give workshops to the students on what they need to do to look attractive to a Santa Cruz rental investor. They come to you with complete rental applications, credit reports, references, and certificates saying they understand what it takes to be a good renter. The university posts your rental for free so you have a large pool of possible renters.


5. Students replicate themselves making the rental process even easier: My experience has been when one student moves out they have another take their place making the process seamless for the Santa Cruz rental investor.


6. Santa Cruz students are often long term renter: If you get the students early, in their sophomore or junior year they often stay for 3-4 years or more. making the cost of turnover very low.


7. Santa Cruz students can vacate in the summer if you want a summer beach home that is rented for 9 or 10 months: If you are a Santa Cruz rental property investor who wants a place in the summer for yourself you can rent to students during the school year and keep it for yourself in the summers. Many students go home in the summers, and the ones who don't can always find a sublet from another student who is going home. It is a way to have a vacation home that more than pays for itself.


Cons of renting to UCSC students:


1. Insurance on the house can be tricky: Recently many insurance companies, including the one I have always used, State Farm have decided they do not want to insure homes that are filled to the brim with students in college towns. They see them as Frat houses and won't write new policies. You can get commercial insurance, which is more expensive than residential or find the rare insurer who will do it. I found that CIG insurance out of Monterrey was willing to write a residential policy at competitive prices.


2. Large homes can be a hot bed of petty emotional issues for the Santa Cruz rental property investor.: If you are the owner of a large home with 6-10 students they may turn to you when there is a spat between the tenants. It is a time and emotional drain. I put one person in charge and have that person deal with issues like who is going to clean the house, noise complaints, bullying, etc. They have the final say. It works pretty well.


3. Students are often unaware of what it takes to take care of a house: Students do not always understand what it takes to care of a home and things can be damaged by mistake, even without large parties or Frat behavior. The way to ameliorate this is to buy a house that does not have delicate finishes and educate the students on basic home maintenance. My tenants know they need to call me right away if something is wrong and not let a small problem get out of hand. I would rather be over called than under called, and they know it.

So as a long time owner of Santa Cruz rental property I can enthusiastically say that renting to Santa Cruz students is a good thing from an investor perspective and not something to be afraid of.


If you have any questions about becoming a Santa Cruz rental property investor please feel free to contact me.

Marcy Moyer

eXp Realty of California


Specializing in Probate, Trust, and Investment Properties

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Santa Cruz, known for the beach, the boardwalk, Pacific Ave, hippies, and organic food, along with University of California Santa Cruz is also probably the best place for investors looking for rental properties right now. Here are some reasons why.


  • 62% of Santa Cruz residents live in rentals, compared to a ntional average of 43%
  • Average sale price of Santa Cruz homes has doubled in the last 5 years
  • Cap rates for Santa Cruz rental properties are between 3.5-4% very easy to obtain, as opposed to 2.5-3% in The Silicon Valley
  • No rent control but there is a one year moratorium on Santa Cruz short term rental permits so Air B&B investments not the way to go now.
  • While the market is apprectiating the competition for investment homes in Santa Cruz is not as great as in Silicon Valley
  • There are still Santa Cruz home sales contingent on the sale of another property, making 1031 exchanges much easier.
  • Accepted offers almost always have contingnecies so you have time to figure out if the property makes sense for your portfolio.
  • Would you rather visit your rental property in Santa Cruz or Milpitas? I would pick Santa Cruz any day.
  • UCSC only guarentees housing for students for 2 years. They have over 18,000 students. The housing shortage is so acute that students are living 3 to a room or in their cars, not because they don't have the money for housing, but because there is such a shortage.


Smart Silicon Valley investors should look at Santa Cruz as a place where your money goes further and the cash flow is so much better. 

I have put my money where my mouth is and own 3 Santa Cruz rental properties myself.

I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions about how and why to buy a rental property in Santa Cruz.

Marcy Moyer

eXp Realty of California


Specializing in Probate, Trust, and Investment Properties

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Why San Jose Condos Make Good Rental Properties


I am frequently asked by San Jose real estate investors, both veteran and new, what is best for San Jose rental investments, multi- family homes, single family homes, or condos.


My first answer has been the same for decades: “Are you most concerned with appreciation or cash flow?”


The answer to this question depends on a variety of individual goals. What has changed over the years is what is best for cash flow.


Historically San Jose rental property appreciation has been best in this order:


  1.      Single family home
  2.      Condo
  3.      Multi family home


Historically San Jose rental property cash flow has been best in this order


  1.      Multi family home
  2.      Condo
  3.      Single family home


This long held wisdom that a multi- family home is the best San Jose rental for cash flow is being disrupted by the latest market forces. Right now, CAP rates are better on newer condos than older multi- family homes, and are much easier to take care of.


The CAP rate on a San Jose rental property is a measure of cash flow. To figure it out you take the income minus expenses (assuming no loan) and see what percentage of the price of the property the expenses are. 4% is on the high end of what you can expect in this market, and many investments are in the 2% range for single family homes and 3% for multi family homes.


Let’s take a sale of a duplex in Japan town as an example of a San Jose multi- family sale in 2016.


Sales price was $1,000,000


Expenses including property tax, utilities, garbage, repairs, insurance total $15,200


Income is $43,200


Cash flow:  $43,200-15,200 is $28,000


Cap rate is the what percentage of $1,000,000 is 28000 or 2.8%


At this time duplexes are not covered by rent control, but that may happen in the future,


This duplex, like many of the homes in downtown San Jose, is very old. This one was built in 1930. While charming, they need a lot of repair and in many years repairs will be over $2000 a year which was this years estimate.


Now take that same $1,000,000 and apply it to two studio condos in a beautiful downtown San Jose building called Axis. I have a client who does own 2 studio condos at Axis that are rentals so these are real numbers.


Market value: $500,000 each $1,000,000 for both


Expenses including HOA, HO6 insurance, property tax and repairs is $24,000 for both


Income: $


Cash Flow: 57200- $24,000 = $33,200


Cap rate: 3.3%


In this case this new building needed very few repairs, there will never be rent control per California state law, and the HOA covers most of the insurance, water and garbage, and the repairs of the common area.

Here is another example of a clients cash flow at The Brickyard, a less expensive building than Axis San Jose, but a great downtown San Jose rental with the best HOA management company I have ever experieinced.


2 condos worth $370,000 each or $740,000

Expenses including property tax, HOA, HO6 insurance, repairs $19,400

Income: $48000

Cash flow: 3.9 % 

Things to watch out for as the building ages is making sure there is enough in the building reserve fund to cover expenses as the building ages.


When the reserves are healthy the future looks brighter for the condos because:


  1.      There is no fear of rent control
  2.      There will be no needed foundation repairs, earthquake upgrades, termite issues etc for the individual San Jose rental investor to deal with in the future as the building is new and the HOA covers these issues.


Of course every case of San Jose rental properties is different, but if you are thinking about buying a San Jose rental property a condo can be a great investment for cash flow, not just appreciation.

If you have any questions about buying a rental property in San Jose please feel free to contact me.

Marcy Moyer

Keller Williams Realty

Specializing in Probate and Trust Sales


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How to properly evaluate a potential investment property

photo credit: Håkan Dahlström via photopin cc
photo credit: Håkan Dahlström via photopin cc

Life is full of sayings that seem contradictory at first.  Expressions like “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and a “team is only as good as its worst player” seem to make no sense until they have been analyzed and understood.  In flipping homes, you make your money when you buy.  Quite simply, if you buy a home at the proper discount then you have a much better chance of selling at a profit.  Here is a general outline to help you evaluate a potential home for investment.

First, Take a Casual Drive

It is a good idea to only consider homes that you can actually inspect.  Being able to drive by the home gives you a firsthand perspective. On your way to the home pay attention to the little details such as

  • condition of the roads; are there large potholes, pavement patches, adequate street signs?
  • local area; are there any schools, shopping, offices, or factories nearby?
  • Appearance of the actual street; how do the other homes on the block look?
  • The prospective home; what is your first impression when you see the place?

Second, take a Casual Stroll

Now that you have had the time to look at the home and surrounding area from the road, it is time to actually look at the property up close.  When you are in the home ignore things like carpeting and paint.  Take time to look over the roof, the foundation, the electrical box, the HVAC unit and any plumbing pipe that is easy to access.   Walk outside and see if the septic tank or well has any problem.  These are the areas that can cost major money to fix.  If there are any noticeable problems with these primary parts of the home you can use that to negotiate with the seller.

Third, crunch some numbers

Now that you have looked over the home and determined that it is a possible investment, it is time to do the math.  You need to have an idea of what the total repairs will cost along with how much the home should be worth after the repairs are completed.  Once you have these numbers you can make an offer to the seller.

When putting together your repair estimates it is always better to over price.  Trying to cut corners and dream that the kitchen can be remodeled for $2,000, or some other wishful hope, will cause you tremendous grief later on.

After you have looked at a few homes and talked with the same contractor a number of times you can start to get a feel for how much repairs will cost.  This one skill takes some time to master for those that are new to real estate investment.   Once you are comfortable estimating repair costs you will be much better at spotting a deal when it pops up.

Search for: Madison, WI Foreclosures for Sale

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It Takes a Good Plan to be Successful in Rental Property

(Investment Properties: Part 5 of 5)

For people considering a purchase of a rental home this is truly an opportune time. The tremendously low mortgage rates coupled with attractive home prices makes this a buyer’s market.

However, numerous reports indicate that home prices are rising consistently, although modestly. If you are considering buying a home it is time to take action. Here are a few guidelines to help you plan out your first purchase.

Look to Experts

If you are looking at your first investment property purchase it would be wise to work with a real estate agent that is experienced in these kinds of deals. An agent that intends to work with an investor over the long term will be meticulous about the property recommendations to insure the investor meets their financial goals and comes back to the agent for more homes.

It is also a good idea to speak with other investors. They can provide you some guidance about what to look for in homes, what areas to avoid and other general information that is generally not found in a textbook.

What Type of Investment Do You Wish to Pursue?

Some first investors choose to buy a home at a great price and rent it out on their own. Others use the service of a management firm. And then there are the individuals that buy a home, spend some money on repairs and put the home back on the market at a price to make a profit.

It is important to consider your options and tolerance for risk. Buying a home that you can easily afford while looking for a tenant may be a good opportunity to get your feet wet.

Develop Your Team before the Purchase

If you plan to manage the property on your own, there will be a few individuals you need to contact prior to purchase. First, you will need a lender that can handle investment loans. Second, you should consult with an accountant and attorney to make sure you are covered legally and that you minimize your tax liability. Third, you should speak to an insurance agent about the proper policies to cover your investment. Finally, you will need to talk to a general handyman or one each of plumbers, electricians, roofers, painters and HVAC repairmen. Having these people lined up and ready to work for you will make much of the process go by smoothly.

Choosing the Right Area

It is important to pick a home in an area that is accustomed to rental property. Places with a high population close to schools and shopping districts are usually safe bets. Rural areas can be difficult simply because the number of available applicants is typically small. Keep in mind that you may want to sell the property in a few years. If you buy the smallest, or the largest, home in a neighborhood it can be tough to unload later.

Buying an investment home should be approached as a strictly business transaction. Decide how much you can comfortably invest and how much you hope to make as a return and let those types of items help you with the decision.

Investment/Rental Properties (5 Part Series)

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How to Pick Profitable Rental Properties

(Investment Properties: Part 4 of 5)

From looking at various homes to actually making a profit, investing in rental properties takes many steps. A person that is new to the process may feel a bit overwhelmed. In order to reduce risk and increase your chances of making positive cash flow with real estate, here are some tips on picking a home.

Good School Zone

A good school zone will always attract families. Many families will be able to purchase homes in the area but some will have to rent a while in order to get their finances in order. These are the types of people who will stay in a home for 2 or 3 years and be potential good tenants. Focus on schools that have high standardized test scores and achieve well in the areas of math and science.

Avoid High Crime Areas

This may seem obvious, but it needs to be pointed out. Homes in areas that are subject to more than average rates of crime will be tough to rent out. Furthermore, the crime rate will drop the rental rate. This can cause a breakeven or even net loss on the monthly cash flow.

Demographic of Neighborhood

Each neighborhood will have its own miniature set of demographics. A community next to a college or university will likely be made up of homes rented almost exclusively to students. An older neighborhood with higher priced homes will likely have couples that are middle aged and higher. Study the neighborhood carefully to make sure there is an available market of tenants that fit the demographic.

Employment Opportunities

Another factor that can heavily influence the profitability of a rental property is the number of available jobs in the nearby area. A new factory, expanding hospital or growing university are places that will add on more people and need them for full time work. Many times people will obtain a job first and then start looking for nearby homes to rent. Sometimes these people can be short term renters but it is possible to find someone that locks in a home for 2 or 3 years.

Check for Vacancies and Homes for Sale

For a new subdivision that is under construction it is common to see multiple signs indicating new homes for sale. However, for an established neighborhood, a high number of for sale signs is a kiss of death. This typically indicates that the area is on the decline. An even worse condition is the presence of several vacant homes. These are homes that have been abandoned for various reasons. Steer clear of these areas in your own best interest.

Be on the Lookout for Problems from Mother Nature

Some areas are more prone to natural problems than others. Issues like flooding, mud slides and tornadoes seem to be attracted to certain areas. The insurance for properties in these areas can be quite high and chip away at the monthly cash flow for the property.

Finding a good property based on these guidelines does not automatically mean that your home will be a cash cow. However, it should increase your chance for success in a very lucrative type of investment.

Investment/Rental Properties (5 Part Series)

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Financial Gurus Still Believe Rental Property Is a Safe Investment

(Investment Properties: Part 3 of 5)

The record low interest rates for mortgages have helped the real estate market to slowly improve month by month for the last several quarters. Thanks to these low rates real estate has continued to be a sound investment for people who wish to diversify their portfolio. For those people that are considering buying their first investment property here are some considerations to keep in mind.

Neighborhood History

It is wise to pick areas that are accustomed to rental homes. One of the most obvious choices would be neighborhoods close to a major university or college. If there are no colleges or universities in your area then look for certain neighborhoods close to quality schools. Schools often attract stable, hardworking tenants that will likely pay on time.

Understanding the Role of Landlord

There are two major ways to prosper from owning rental property. The first is to buy the home at a significant discount and then sell the place at a profit after the home has appreciated. The second way is to have positive cash flow. The second method takes considerable planning. Just because the tenant is willing to pay more per month than the actual mortgage payment, it does not mean that the home is profitable. There are other items to consider such as regular maintenance and repairs.

Determining What to Charge in Rent

Appraisers and real estate agents can provide information about rental rates for a certain area. This gives the investor some idea of what can be charged per month. The monthly mortgage amount and allotted figures for maintenance should be subtracted from the rent. There should be at least 15% left over after subtracting the payments and expenses. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing money.

Choosing Tenants

Once you have some interested parties and they seem capable of paying the rent it is time to begin the screening process. Experienced landlords hold fast to the rule of checking out prior landlord references as well as the tenant’s credit file and even a criminal check. The criminal check could spare you from inadvertently leasing to a felon and finding major damage to your home due to a police raid.

Research the Possibility of Using a Rental Management Firm

Some companies specialize in managing properties for investors. These firms will review applications from potential tenants, handle collecting rent payments and, most importantly, take care of the maintenance issues that pop up at the most inopportune times.

For instance, if you get a call in the middle of the day that a toilet is leaking, can you leave work and fix it? If you get a call at 2 am on Saturday morning notifying you of a sudden hole in the roof, are you capable of fixing that problem? Some people have the skills and time to manage these issues, but most people do not. In these instances it is a good idea to use the service of a reputable management firm.

Investment/Rental Properties (5 Part Series)

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Advice About Purchasing Your First Rental Home/Property
(Investment Properties: Part 1 of 5)

Before buying that first piece of rental property it is important that you answer a single question. This question has nothing to do with your credit score, your experience with real estate or how much money you can gather for the purchase. The question is quite simple: WHY are you buying an investment home?

The answer to this question will guide you towards the right kind of property and the right type of financing. Let’s look at some examples to get a better idea of reasons people use to start investing in homes.

Saving for College Tuition

This type of goal usually involves a term over a few years. Couples with young children will buy a home in an area that has shown signs of appreciating. A year or two before the child enters college the family will sell the home and use the profit to pay for tuition, books and other expenses.

In this particular scenario the couple is not concerned with making a large profit each month on the rent. They simply want to break even while keeping the home in tip-top shape to maximize the potential appreciation.

Using Cash Flow to Increase Monthly Income

Some individuals invest in rental homes because they want to earn a profit each month from the rent. In these cases it is extremely important to buy a home either for all cash or at a deep discount from the market price. Foreclosures and vacant homes are common for this example. Buying the home for cash or at a deep discount allows the landlord to charge a fair rent based on the current market conditions and pocket most of the money each month as profit.

Speculation about Future Values

Sometimes people simply buy a property at a slightly discounted price in hopes that the property value will escalate quickly due to a future event. For instance, a new shopping mall, new school or a new factory can greatly improve the value of homes in the immediate area. Buying a home in such a location and holding on to it for a few months to a year can yield a high profit.

Career Change

Some people want to begin their property investment as a means to escape their current full time job and start a new career. It is possible for people to invest in real estate as their main source of income. However, it is not a get rich quick scheme.

The most successful investors have clear goals and follow a proven formula. They buy homes in particular areas that exhibit desirable qualities. They only buy when the price is discounted heavily and they have favorable financing for the transaction. They also understand the rental rates for the area in comparison to the financing costs.

Buying a rental home can be lucrative and lead to good fortune. However, it must be approached with diligence and hard work, not pie-in-the-sky dreams.

Investment/Rental Properties (5 Part Series)

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East Palo Alto short sale


There is another conflict brewing between investors and first time home-buyers, and this time the home buyers may win. In the more affordable areas of the Silicon Valley distressed properties, ie short sales and reos have been popular with investors and first time buyers. Many would be owner occupiers lose out on great opportunities to investors who have all cash.  Since condos are the least expensive properties, have the fewest maintenance issue,  and tend to bring in more rent per dollar spent they are popular with investors. Coupled with the more restrictive lending practices on condos, many bay area developments are now in a position where the number of owner occupied units has fallen to a critical level. Owners of these properties are having trouble refinancing and buyers trying to get loans are being rejected by the lenders.  As a result, many complexes are starting to pass new HOA regulations limiting the number of rentals allowed in the condo development.

These restrictions can be a double edged sword.  If they occur in a building where the delinquency rate on the HOA dues is too high then a buyer will not be able to get a loan anyway and it will effectively cut off all sales.  In the future when the market has settled down the rental restriction could put a damper on future sales.  However, if they are not instituted it may become impossible for anyone but investors to purchase in some condo complexes, which in itself will lower values not to mention make things harder for the first time home buyer. It will also make it impossible for current homeowners to ever refinance in some of these buildings.

I do not have the answer here as to what is right or wrong here. I can only give some advise on what to do if you want to purchase or sell a condo and want to get the information about potential rental restrictions.

1. Ask your agent to find out if the HOA docs are available yet.  If it is an reo they most likely will not be and a

short sale very likely not

2. If the docs are not available before you make an offer ask your agent to ask the listing agent for the number of the HOA management company

3. Call the management company and ask about any current or contemplated rental restrictions

It is not that hard to find out and can save a lot of time and possibly money.

If you have any questions about short sales in San Mateo or Santa Clara Counties please feel free to contact me.


Marcy Moyer

Keller Williams Realty


D.R.E.  01191194

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 We all know whats happening to the single family home markets. Over supply and shadow inventory and the subsequent price declines will continue until fear is overcome and inventory is soaked up.

The kinds of issues that led to a boom bust in housing did not take place with multi family. There was no build out leading to over supply and the lender market was much more rationlized. Little of the kind of lending that led to so many foreclosures, ultimately driving home prices down.

Lack Of Supply In The Rental Market
From 1997 to 2006, multifamily construction was about 342,000 new units per year, but by 2010 they new construction declined 66%. Government estimates indicate we will need 1.5 million additional units annually just to keep up with population growth. Quite a shortfall, indeed

Lack Of Lender Interest In Funding Any Real Estate
Adding to a undersupply is a real lack of lender interest in more housing of any kind. Although this appears to be a negative, it protected the sector from the boom mania and has kept the multi family market on a sound footing.

Realty Trac reports annual foreclosure filings spiked from 1 million in 2006 to 3.9 million in 2009, and were about the same number in 2010. Finally, the huge foreclosure debacle is making renters out of all of us.

The combination of immigration, retirees moving back in and a new generation up will equal the size of the boomers,creating a large pool of new renters. Now thats huge!

A Solid Market
The national vacancy rate for rentals fell 17% last year to 6.6%, according to Reis. And rents jumped. In New York, up 9% on average in the last five years; in San Jose, they're up 8% San Francisco, one of the best rental markets in the country has seen its vacancy rates drop as rentals in all neighborhoods post new highs.
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