Monday, April 14, 2014

Roanoke County GIS At REI This Week

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that we will have David Wray with the Roanoke County Government at REI this Tuesday to talk about a new GIS system that they have that is supposed to rival the City GIS.

I sure hope they do. All I know is that I was on there yesterday trying to look up a house and found that I still couldn’t on a Mac. I have never been to a website in history that would not work with a Mac so I really don’t understand this. I just looked into it a little more and found one that works. It’s has no where near the capabilities of the City GIS but at least I can see some data. I really don’t understand why the County wouldn’t have one equally as nice as the City considering the City told us that it only cost about $5,000 to implement not counting their own man-hours of inputting data and taking pictures.

The 2 websites I found are the Counties WebPro Real Estate Data:

And County Maps:

Hopefully there is another one I’m not seeing. If they need the number and contact information for the site that Roanoke City put up, I’m sure they will give it to me. I really would like to start investing more of my money in the County where they like investors. However it’s imperative that they have a good GIS system that I can do my research on.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Landscaping and Curb Appeal This Week At REI

We have our member and friend, Jeane Dixon at the upcoming meeting to talk about landscaping and curb appeal. Creating an attractive yard is something that is suited well for taking advantage of while you have a rental. 10 or 15 years down the road you may be ready to sell. At that point the trees planted will be large and well established creating the intended environment which will add quite a bit to the value of your property if done correctly.

Good curb appeal not only helps your house increase in value but it also is one of the few things you can do that pays for itself as a fresh coat of paint does. While waiting for it to establish your attractive yard will make your property rent for more to cover your costs of getting it in order. An extra $25 dollars a month translates to $300 per year in additional rent. But that’s only if you jack the rent by $25. I see so many landlords do upgrades to their property and not get it back in rent. Crazy! Do the right upgrades and you can get it every time. Do the wrong ones and they will never pay back.

I won’t be able to make it to this meeting unfortunately as I’m going fishing for a week with Roger and Dan at Dan’s place in Nags Head NC. Sharks and Sting Rays are on my menu. I wish I could because Jeane has some great ideas and really knows her stuff. I have also been told that she has very fair pricing for her services as well. When I get back I’m going to ask her if she could brainstorm for me and develop a plan that I can hire her for to landscape my new house out in Salem. All with beneficial plants such as fruit and nut trees, and herbs.

No, not the Wacky Tabacky kind of herb…

Come on down to the weekly Shindig. Will be fun as usual and it’s always good to spend a little time every week with good like minded people that are driven towards success. It keeps your head in the game and your eye on the prize.

Monday, March 31, 2014

This Week Another Stab at 1031 Exchanges

1031 Exchanges will be the topic of discussion this week at Real Estate Investors of Virginia. We will have guest speaker and financial advisor, Jerry McMillian to cover the topic. We talked about 1031 Exchanges with our member Robert Young about a year ago and it’s about time we dive back into them.

1031 Exchanges are a way to get around paying capital gains on a property that you sell as long as you reinvest all of the proceeds in a new property. You are essentially deferring this tax for later recognition. One who takes advantage of sophisticated loopholes such as this understands the time value of money. The ability to make more money with that dollar in your pocket today. However there is a cost of doing 1031 Exchanges that must be considered. It’s a no brainer for expensive property but questionably beneficial on low dollar volume exchanges.

Come on out and lets get back into the details of the 1031 Exchange and spend a little time with good, like minded people.

PS. I’m back from Tampa. Spanky and I went down there on one of those cheap Allegiant flights. We were there to talk to REO Realtors and get a feel for the market and specifically where we should invest. I learned allot. It was a highly productive trip.

We rented a speedboat for one day to ride around and see where it would be good to buy a house on the water as well. That thing was fast! I found that all of the boat rental places wanted people to have lots of experience with boats after getting turned down a few times. So I quickly realized that I had to lie to get a boat. Man did we have fun… There was a tornado watch and the water was really choppy. Only beached the boat once!

We’re glad to be back alive. The flight back was contracted out to Miami Air. There was a very inexperienced pilot of this massive plane. We were coming down into Roanoke and he almost crashed it. People were thrown all over the place smacking their heads on the walls of the plane. The plane dropped several times so fast that there was weightlessness. Then several G’s that made your stomach turn upside down. Not mine but many people in the plane were puking. It was gross.

I was scared for real. It takes quite a bit to scare me. I was clutching onto the seat in front of me for my life. Thoughts going through my head that I don’t have my company set up in a trust yet with beneficiaries that can have it once I die without having to deal with our lovely government. Looking out the right window there was Smith Mountain Lake. Then there was Tinker Mountain. VERY CLOSE to the plane. We were right next to it. It was a little higher than we were.

Once the pilot realized he was going to crash the plane he pulled up hard and we were headed straight up still getting thrown all over the place. There was some wind but I think it was more pilot or plane error. About 15 minutes of pure terror. No Joke! Once we got above the clouds it settled out and he landed it in Greensboro where he abandoned us after the airlines held us hostage on the plane for 2 hours straight while they were figuring out what to do. Me and Spank hired a Cabby to go back to the shop and get a van for 8 of us to bring us back to Roanoke. Whew, glad that part was over.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Open Letter From Yours Truly To The Entire City Council, Mayor, City Manager, City Planning and Code Enforcement Staff Of Supervisors. One Responded Due To Election.

Picture by

Please see the attached link to the Real Estate Investors of Virginia website. Something that you may be concerned with, or maybe not. I honestly don’t know as our group has had poor results over the past 3 years we have tried to work together with the city as partners.

BTW, at the last city tax sale there was a number of questionably illegal, certainly immoral and unethical activities that took place that I’ll be writing about next week. Just checking with you all to see if these regular issues we are seeing happening are the new norm. I’m sure you must not be aware of this stuff because I can’t see any reasonable person allowing it to continue.

Best regards,


thanks for sending- I will investigate but we are generally extremely well recvd by businesses and I would not think it is anything in the norm or expectable range and may be a matter of interpretation.
thanks again

Hi Dave,

Thanks for your response. I think you are a little out of touch with investors in the city. I can assure you that the city is not well received by the majority of property investors. I am an officer for Real Estate Investors of Virginia and of our membership of 550 investors in the city, not one of them has ever told me that they are happy doing business with the city. However I get lots of positive feedback about every town surrounding it.

Best regards,




Lets just all play by the rules. Honesty and morality should not be a thing of the past. I do not find it acceptable for our local government to follow in the footsteps of corruption that our national government deems acceptable.

Section 8 Coming To REI of Virginia This Week

Tuesday evening at REI of Virginia we have Helen Shampine and David Bustamante coming to speak with us. They are in charge of the Section 8 program in this area. The Section 8 program used to consist of both the Housing Authority and TAP but it has all been turned over to the Authority now.

The purpose will be to talk about the Section 8 program to the members of our group that don’t know about it and to answer any questions or suggestions that we may have.

Over the years I have been real happy with the Section 8 program. Can’t beat that guaranteed rent. And the residents are under your thumb to a certain degree because if they are in violation of the lease they can lose their Section 8.

However there have been some problems lately. For example, now it takes much longer to get a new Section 8 tenant into a unit than it used to. You can wait for a month or more for everything to be approved. With that considered and the option to rent the property to someone else not on the program who qualifies and has rent in hand, it makes it hard to willingly lose a month or more of rent in order to rent to the Section 8 tenant. At that point the benefits get outweighed to a degree.

They have also been having some problems with inspectors that are way over the top nit picking every little thing. I’ve had small scrapes on a deck from the tenant dragging furniture across it that I had to have repainted because the inspector thought it fell into the chipped flaking paint category. And she just checked the property 2 weeks earlier with the last section 8 tenant. I’ve had an inspector on a re-inspection tell me that I had to cut out all of the caulking around the bathtub and replace it because the TENANT was a filthy pig and didn’t use Tilex to get rid of the mold that gets on all grout or caulk if it is never cleaned. I see that as a tenant issue, not a landlord issue.

So come on out to the meeting with your suggestions in hand. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the program I would still suggest it even though I have had problems. The main reason I would is that I haven’t given up faith in the people who run this program as they have always been concerned with my issues and I feel like they are trying to work to always keep it a top notch program in our city. I can understand that they will have some bumps along the way and have confidence that they will fix them.

See you at the meeting!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Proof Roanoke City Government Hates Business

I’ve got bad news for you people. It’s a verification of what we all already knew.

Roanoke City Government has told their code enforcement department to single out landlords to take to court rather than enforcing the state code equally amongst all property owners.  I don’t think our politicians who wrote these maintenance codes or the judges that enforce them would be happy to hear this.

I was at a South East Action Forum meeting in February and they were reading their meeting minutes from their January 2nd 2014 meeting at Jackson Park Library. Below is a quote from their meeting minutes which I was able to obtain.

Code Enforcement Officer’s Report:

Code Enforcement Officer, Victor Villasenor, reported that work on the 13th Street roundabouts is progressing and that there will be properties on the Code Enforcement court docket for January 16th. He added that during this time of year, the focus on code violations will be on rental properties. Members were encouraged to show their support for these efforts at the court date.

This is bad and clearly demonstrates that the local government is in a full scale attack against small business owners across the city. What do you think about the “corporate culture” that our mayor, city council and city manager have implemented within the city departments that they are over?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fantastic Meeting Lined Up That You Don’t Want To Miss!

I am pleased to announce that REI of Virginia is having one of our favorite speakers at our meeting this Tuesday. Our member and good friend, Ray Alcorn will be giving his 2014 forecast for the real estate industry.

If you don’t know Ray he is what I call a real estate guru even though he doesn’t consider himself to be. I guess because the guru’s have a bad name due to a few scammers. Ray is the real deal.

Ray has been involved in Commercial Real Estate for over 30 years. It’s in his blood as his father was involved with commercial real estate as well.  He’s done everything from trailer parks to high end commercial property, etc. And has been very successful at doing so.

Every year Ray puts together a projection so fellow investors can determine what to do with their money in the upcoming years. I’ve never met a person that scours over every statistic out there to the degree that Ray does in the development of his outlook.

Going to be an outstanding meeting.

We’ll see you there!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Guide To Virginia Maintenance Code. Is Virginia Code Retroactive?


The simple answer is that in most cases, Virginia Building Code is not retroactive. ONLY in the case of an imminent hazard can the government force you to bring a property up to currant code. Our politicians have been good to us by allowing these protections from rogue enforcement that would happen as a result of language that could have been made discretionary. Fortunately it wasn't.

And an imminent hazard would be defined as something that will certainly cause serious injury to an individual if it is not repaired, replaced, or whatever. I don't know a single property owner that would willingly and knowingly allow any imminent hazard to exist in or on any of their properties.

So what we've come down to is if there is anything that a Code Official is requiring you to do, ask yourself if it is an imminent hazard. If it is fix it immediately. Items such as adding a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet near water (bathroom or kitchen) would qualify as an imminent hazard due to the fact that if the item they have plugged in goes bad, the lack of a ground in old wiring will cause the person to get shocked by what they have plugged in. Another example would be a wire that they see is frayed and lost it's protective coating. A person could get electrocuted by something like that so clearly that would be an imminent hazard.

Also, If what was originally built is not in working order you will have to fix it. Everything must be maintained in good condition and in working order. If you decide to repair that broken item and the repair is "In Kind" meaning that you are using the exact same thing to replace what was damaged than you don't have to bring it up to today's code. However if you install something completely different, everything that you are working on will have to be brought up to today's code. There is value in keeping a house historically accurate.

If it is an issue where code is trying to make you add something to your property that doesn't qualify as an imminent hazard such as a bathroom vent or a window, or an anti hammer valve on old plumbing, etc,  you have the right to refuse to do so. Your property is essentially grandfathered in and if what is in question was built prior to code or was built to the code of the day than you have the choice to upgrade it or leave it as is.

Code enforcers like to quote Section 102.1 out of the Virginia Maintenance Code as an all inclusive statement that they can do whatever they want to you implying that the code has so much leeway that it is at their discretion no matter what it is. However that's not the case. Reading this "alone" would seem that way.

Section 102.1 states " . . . the purpose of this code is to protect the health, safety and welfare of
the residents
of the Commonwealth of Virginia, provided that buildings and
structures should be permitted to be maintained at the least possible cost
consistent with recognized standards of health, safety, energy
conservation, and water conservation, including provision necessary to
prevent overcrowding, rodent or insect infestation, and garbage
accumulation . . ."

The use of "health, safety and welfare of the residents” to encompass everything doesn't fly. The code is very clear that an imminent hazard must be found to make a property be brought up to a more recent code.  They can’t encompass anything they want as the law is very restrictive on what the purpose and scope of these inspections are. The statement above is from the code section “Purpose and Scope."

On the exact same page of the Purpose and Scope it dictates the Application of the Purpose and Scope. See page 5 of the Virginia Maintenance Code.

"Section 103 - Application of Code
103.1 General. This code prescribes regulations for the maintenance of all existing buildings and structures and associated equipment, including regulations for unsafe buildings and structures.

103.2 Maintenance requirements. Buildings and structures shall be maintained and kept in goof repair in accordance with the requirements of this code and when applicable in accordance with the USBC under which such building or structure was constructed. No provision of this code shall require alterations to be made to an existing building or structure or to equipment unless conditions are present which meet the definition of an unsafe structure or a structure unfit for human occupancy.
103.21 (where they say fire detectors are not required) Maintenance of non-required fire protection systems. Non-required fire protection systems shall be maintained to function as originally installed. If any such systems are to be reduced in function or discontinued, approval shall be obtained from the building official in accordance with Section 103.8.1 of the Virginia Construction Code.

103.3 Continued approval. Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, alterations shall not be required to be made to existing buildings or structures which are occupied in accordance with a certificate of occupancy issued under any edition of the USBC" (Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code).

So as you see above. The laws are very clear and very restrictive regarding to what degree that code enforcement enforces Maintenance Code. Virginia Politicians were looking out for us when this code was drafted as they understood that there is potential for widespread abuse by lower levels of government.

May God Bless the USA!

How To Become A Millionaire Investing In Real Estate In Your Spare Time

Photo By - Great Educational Forums There!
This week we have a nice treat for you. Our President, Andy Stowasser, will be walking the group through a meeting called How To Become A  Millionaire Investing In Real Estate In Your Spare Time.

I can’t wait to hear it. I always like to hear our members speak who are people who have been there and done that. Andy is one of them for sure. I’m guessing he will be taking a buy and hold approach in this meeting.

Information such as this is extremely valuable. Secrets of the wealthy are disclosed. There is plenty of room for us all to fill our pockets. If you are not a premium member at this point hopefully you will consider signing up.

It’s going to be a packed meeting for sure. Make sure you get there early because if we get stuck in the small room and you are late you probably won’t get a seat. Over the years I can pretty much predict how many people will be at whatever meeting based on the topic. I guarantee it will be a packed house tomorrow.

These kinds of meetings benefit those on their way to millions as well as those who are already there. I most often pull out a few gems of information that help me step it up to the next level. Education within our industry is key to success.

So reschedule your plans if you already have them because we’re talking money and potential life changing events. Whatever else you are doing can wait.

We’ll see you there!!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lead Safe Roanoke Speaking At REI This Week

This Tuesday we have a fantastic meeting lined up with Marla Robertson and Ann Weaver of Lead Safe Roanoke. Marla and Ann run a great program and they now are lined up with more funding.

Lead Safe Roanoke is a program that protects children by testing your property for lead and fixing the problem if it has it. I have used it a number of times in the past. Typically what I’ve seen is that they end up installing new windows, doors and paint if needed. And they often dig out the dirt around the house and replace it with mulch as that dirt often is contaminated by lead.

So what’s the catch? There isn’t one really… If your property qualifies by having low income children under the age of 5 or a pregnant mom you will get this work done for free. However you will be required to put the tenants up in a hotel for a few days while the work is being done. No big deal considering the value that you are getting as a result of the work done. 

You can also participate in this program on a property that you just purchased if you make a commitment to try to keep it rented to low income families with children that fit the criteria.

Come on out to our meeting. You don’t want to miss this!!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Have Problems In Or Around One Of Your Rentals?

If you are having problems around one of your rentals it can make it very hard to keep the house occupied with good tenants. I had a problem in the past where a house across the street was full of drug dealers and these guys would actually have the nerves to sit on my porch and not move out of the way for my tenants that were paying to live there. Even after I told them I don’t want to see them on the property again.

So that’s when I found out about the BAR program that allows you to have anyone other than the tenants on the property arrested for being there without having to attempt to contact you the landlord which legally was their restriction in the past. Once on the BAR program if they have ever been barred on that property and told not to trespass there all it takes is the police seeing them back on the property and they can be arrested immediately.

See below information on the officers that are now ahead of the BAR program AND any other neighborhood complaints. Keep their contact information in case you need them or go ahead and call them to get your properties listed on this program.

Good morning everyone..........

As part of the organizational enhancements made within the Roanoke Police Dept. effective January 7th, I wanted to make certain you had the contacts for your neighborhood's Police Dept. Community Response Team.

* Lt. Daniel Hartman ( or 853-2671) is the Community Response Team Lieutenant for the eastern side of Roanoke, and
* Lt. Rick Morrison ( or 853-1634) is the Community Response Team Lieutenant for the western city of the city.  

In addition, the city continues to be mapped into four (4) Community Response Team zones with the following Community Resource Officers:
* Officer Kenny Johnson ( is the Community Resource Officer for NE,
* Officer Brian Tinsley ( is the Community Resource Officer for SE.
* Officer Derrick Spradlin ( is the Community Resource Officer for NW
* Officer Ryan Brady (ryan.brady@roanokeva.gov0 is the Community Resource Officer for SW  

All are very excited about the transition and look forward to working in partnership with you to keep our neighborhoods safe and engaged.  .

Over the next few months, all of the Community Resource Teams will be working to get around to the different neighborhood meetings and introducing themselves but until that time, please feel free to contact them with any concerns you might have.     



Bob Clement, Neighborhood Services Coordinator
Office of Neighborhood Services
Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building
215 Church Ave SW, Room 312 North
Roanoke, VA  24011
P:  (540) 853-5210   F:  (540) 853-6597

REI of Virginia Members Having A Problem With Rental Inspections and C/O’s

So there are two different things that the city wants landlords to have on each and every house. A valid rental certificate if the house is in a low income area which they have defined as a rental inspection district, and a certificate of occupancy (CO).

We all know what the rental certificate is however some aren’t familiar with the CO. A CO is essentially a stamp of approval that says specifically that a property is up to the code at the time it was built and it has been approved for a very specific use. For example it has been approved as a single family house or a triplex or an apartment building, or a very specific kind of business, etc.

The city decided that they wanted to push towards getting every property a valid CO so they put together a plan where they would allow a landlord to get a CO and their rental certificate at once and at no additional cost beyond the normal cost of a CO.

Just for a little review of history, Virginia Code states that every property from the time it is built has a CO. However there was a time that was pre building codes in Virginia. And houses that were before the building code existed are grandfathered in. Code states that if a house was built in a certain way that was acceptable at the time it was built, the city code enforcers and building inspectors can’t make you change it to bring it up to todays code. That is only if you are doing an “in kind" repair. If you are doing more than a simple repair than the work you do has to be of todays standards.

This was a little protection that our state level politicians had to put into law because they found that cities and towns across the state were taking advantage of the code and harming their citizens by ordering complete renovations of houses every time the code was updated. Give em an inch and they take a mile every time.

So to make it clear, you do not have to have a CO as long as the house was built pre building code which almost every house in the city was. AND as long as the use wasn’t changed from the use prior to the state accepting the building code. The burden of proof is on the city that the use has been changed since the implementation of the code.

The city has historically attempted to make people feel like they have to have a CO but this is not true. They have done such a good job at this that there have been a number of Legal Aid cases against landlords historically where Legal Aid was using a defense that the tenant should not have to pay any rent for the entire time they were there based on the house not having a CO. Legal aid in these cases was confusing this with a rental certificate which is a completely different thing. Unfortunately the landlords I talked to did not adequately represent themselves and they lost thousands of dollars due to their lack of knowledge of the law.

If you wish to confirm the laws on CO’s click the link below. It’s important for you to understand the law as you will be taken advantage of if you don’t.

I continually get complaints from our members about this Rental Certificate / CO issue so I sent a message to Chris Chittum about the issue hoping he would resolve it and make everything easier on landlords if they want to keep pressing this CO issue. Below is my email to him and then his response. I told Chris I would send this to you so we are all up to speed on the issue.

Essentially his response is that there will continue to be multiple inspections by both code enforcers and building inspectors if you desire to get a CO and they will put a plan into action to make the process easier for you to understand.

Hi Chris,

Our members are having some issues regarding the communication between city departments that I was wondering if you could help with.

A number of times every month members are contacting me asking questions regarding certificate of occupancies and rental certificates. In the past it was Tom Carr’s position to not have a duplication of services as to avoid unnecessary costs to the taxpayer considering that building inspectors are as qualified if not more qualified to do a rental inspection. I talked to you about this issue as well and you agreed regarding the duplication of services.

It is possible that the code enforcers feel like the building inspectors are stepping on their toes if they do the rental inspection and maybe this is what is causing the problem. I’m not sure.

Over the years the city has had a desire to get all properties a CO so when you request a CO you also got a rental inspection at no additional cost. Currently our members are having issues thinking that they got their rental certificate when they got their CO or having code enforcers threaten them that they must get a rental certificate after getting the CO. This issue sets landlords up for a lawsuit from the tenants which is not desired.

If you could think of a good solution that’s also good for the taxpayers pocket it would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

Dallas Powell
Real Estate Investors of Virginia
1417 Peters Creek Rd.
Roanoke, VA 24017

Cell: 540.293.2335


I talked with Neil Holland, Building Commissioner and Dan Webb, Codes Compliance Coordinator about the process for bundling a C.O. and a Rental Certificate.  I understand that we have been doing this experimentally for about a year or so. We now know that it can work, but have learned that we need better communication internally among ourselves and externally with customers.  The sequencing of the process is also important and is an area that we will work on.  I appreciate the feedback; bringing this issue to our attention will help us improve.

If there is construction on a rental unit that triggers the need for a
building permit, we encourage the owner to go ahead and get a C.O. at the same time (if there is no existing C.O.).  The C.O. validates the occupancy and that the units were legally established at some point.  This practice is mutually beneficial as it acts as a vested right to the property owner for a certain number of units.  It also prevents us from having to do a lot of pointless research in the future on whether the number of units were legally established or not.  For example, a 3-unit building in a single-family zone could have been established legally long ago under a different zoning.  That's fairly common.

The new practice is to include a four year Rental Certificate with the C.O.
An owner does not have to apply separately or pay a separate fee for it
when bundled with a C.O., but does need to be issued a written Rental
Certificate.  Apparently, we need to a better job of communicating this to

As things stand now, a single inspector cannot cover both construction and maintenance inspections because we are dealing with two separate codes: The Virginia Maintenance Code and the Virginia Construction code.   Tom Carr may have advocated such an arrangement before, but since we became accredited, each code requires different competencies and the inspectors must be certified in their respective disciplines.   We may at some point have inspectors cross-certified to do both, but right now we do not.  This means that it is absolutely necessary to have two different inspectors check the property, at least for the time being.

Another consideration is that the Virginia Construction Code requires that there be no violations of the Virginia Maintenance Code or Fire Code before a C.O. is issued.  So, what we try to do is coordinate those inspections to the extent possible.  When an inspection for the C.O. or permit is requested, the Combination Inspector should contact the Codes Compliance Inspector for that area and schedule a dual inspection.  What I — and I think some owners — are struggling with is the fact that, at final building inspection, a rental inspection may uncover a lot of things that need to be corrected, when the expectation was that both certificates would be issued at final.

Therefore, I think an initial rental inspection needs to be done earlier in
the game - before the final building inspection.  On final approach rather
than at touchdown, if you will.   That way, the owner has an opportunity to address rental inspection issues.  Then the dual inspection can be conducted at the end of the project and both Rental Certificate and C.O. can be issued at the same time.   Of course, all this varies depending on the amount of construction taking place, so each case is different.

What I plan to do in response is work with Neil and Dan to develop a
written internal policy as well as a customer guide for owners so everyone can be on the same page.  I hope that will make things run more smoothly for all involved.

Again, thank you for bring this issue to our attention.


Chris Chittum, AICP          
Director of Planning, Building, and
215 Church Avenue, SW Roanoke, VA 24011…
(540) 853-2356 (desk) (540) 815-0291 (cell)

Politics and Investment In Roanoke City

As real estate investors and business owners we are heavily involved with the local government of the towns that we do business in. The decisions that the local politicians in that town make often have a direct impact on how easy or hard it is to do business in that area.

Roanoke City has had an unfriendly attitude towards investors under the currant administration. They have refused to work together with REI of Virginia to develop good solutions to tenant accountability issues. As a matter of fact, Ray Ferris (now running as an independent) and Court Rosen (not up for election this time) both told me that tenants will never be held accountable for their own actions within the city as whatever these grown adults do is the direct responsibility of the landlord since we are the one who owns the property.  I can tell you one thing for a fact, as long as tenants aren’t held accountable for their own actions, nothing will ever change. There is no amount of punishment or fines that they can give to a landlord to solve a tenant issue.

The currant administration has all unanimously voted for things such as the Rain Tax that you will be paying this summer and the sale of multi million dollar building(s) and land for 10 bucks to their friends some of which have criminal backgrounds, amongst many other controversial issues.

They have even taken it to the degree where they have been rude to our members that have attended city council meetings in an attempt to stomp out any disagreement with what they are doing.

So Why Invest In Roanoke City? That’s the question I have been asking myself for a long time now. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they will never buy another property in the city.

Investors such as ourselves have a vested interest in the city. We all want property values to increase so we can make some equity with our investments. And we have the currant city council standing in the way preventing this city from becoming a great place to live and invest. It seems to me that it’s really all about wealth envy and has nothing to do with making Roanoke the best it can be.

Some economics 101 for those that are reading this email within the upper levels of government. We all need to work together. I have been saying this for years. I’ve stuck my hand out in friendship on many occasions as many of our members have and you’ve turned your backs on us.

When you drive investors out of the city you create a glut of extra property on the market. When there is too much supply of property than the property values go down as there is a limited amount of people that want to purchase that property. Because you drove them away. When property values go down than you are hurting the homeowners in the city. The very people that you “say” you are helping.

The opposite happens when you are business friendly and you encourage investment within the city. When investors feel like they are working together with the city to make it a great place to live and conduct business than property values go up. Investors in this type of relationship with the city feel good and want to pump more of their hard earned money into the city rather than the surrounding areas that they have been pushed to. At this point properties are harder to come by so they have to pay more to get one. They go up for the average homeowner and everyone makes money including those who did nothing to make it other than watch the investors fix up the houses in their neighborhood.

A + B = C folks. It’s a pretty simple concept. Now let’s get on the ball and do it. Unfortunately I don’t see it happening with the currant administration as we have made countless attempts to work together and continually are rejected.

So at our upcoming meeting I am pleased to announce that we will get to meet the 3 Republicans running for city council this upcoming election.

We have:

Roger Malouf, who is a real estate broker and on the Board of Zoning appeals for the city. Also a member and officer of our group.

Jim Garrett, 21 years serving the infantry in the Army. He’s an internet technology guy that had a company he sold to Ntelos prior to the military and currently owns another internet service providing company.

Hank Benson, another business man who manages the branch office of an industrial battery company. Hanks position puts him in close touch with the concerns of the business community in Roanoke and will focus on jobs, lower taxes and business expansions that will benefit our city.

As always, REI of Virginia encourages all parties (Republican, Democrat and Independent among others) to come and talk with us so we have a good understanding of their views and which candidates that we would like to personally donate large sums of money to that we feel will be working together with us to help our companies.

I encourage Ray Ferris, Bill Bestpich and Dave Trinkle to come and speak with us. However they should realize that our members will have some very hard questions for them as we will for the Republicans. These men have a currant track record in the council of not being willing to work with REI and I would like to see what changes they plan to make this election year for investors.

We also would love to speak with the 2 Democrats that are taking Bestpich and Ferris’s Democrat nominations. Linda Wyatt and Freeda Cathcart who is currently reporting that she has over $196,000 ready to spend on this election for a job that pays a little over $15,000 a year. Donations that are coming from all over this country. Not just local. Got any special interest money? I think so… We would also love to see Valerie Garner who I’m told is another Democrat (running as independent) totaling 6 Dems running against the 3 Republicans.

So come on out to our REI meeting this Tuesday and lets meet some of the people running for office and see what ideas they have for Roanoke Cities business community.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More Discounts!!! Save More Money With REI of Virginia. If You Are On Our Email List You Get Our Discounts


REI of Virginia has purchased a benefits program that will help you do business better by saving money on materials and services for your properties at places like Lowe’s, Sherwin Williams, Sears and many more.

There are no costs to you for this program, so take advantage and enroll.

Click Here

Special Pharmacy Discounts For REI Members at Trinity Pharmacy

Our member, Kirtesh Patel owns Trinity Pharmacy at 396 E Burwell St. Salem VA. He has been nice enough to offer REI Members a discount on their pharmaceuticals. They are opening another location in Roanoke soon and Kirtesh says he can beat the pricing of the big box drug stores. It’s nice to support local business whenever you can especially if they are a member of our organization.

You have a couple options. They can mail your prescriptions to you or deliver them to you for free. And as an REI member you get at least a dollar off of your normal copay with each prescription. If you were taking 5 medications that is at minimum a $60 savings per year.

See more information below. I asked Kirtesh the process of transferring medication to his pharmacy and he described below.

Hello Dallas,
Our website is
we are also on face book. our another location in Roanoke is coming soon.

web site explain transfer procedure.. how ever it is as follow

1. You just make a one call to us and let us know name of the pharmacy and medication.
2. we will transfer your prescription
3. we will mail it to you or deliver to you
4. for maintenance medication such as blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, we will send every months so one don’t have to remember to call pharmacy.
5. when refills run out, we will call doctor and get prescription
6. if manufacture coupon available on brand name medication we will get it and give higher discount to our customers
7. will have access to lots of over the counter medication at almost 20% less then Wal-mart or CVS.
8. And discount on cash price and assistance on co-pay
just call 540-4444-7383 and ask for Pete or Nikkie.

Additional service
1. Review of polypharmarmacy, to rule out medication incompatibilities and unwanted medication interactions.
2. medication review for  on negative out come such as fall, infections, Diabetes, CHF, COPD, etc
3. pharmacist to physician consultation regarding disease process
4. expert in addiction medication management and compliance
5. specialize packaging  for medication complain acne with small fee
6. availability of registered nurse consultation
7. and for REI member flu shots with $10, discount so it will only cost $19.00 for non insurance person to get flu shot with paid REI member.

with prescriptions, Over the counter medication and flu shots, each member have potential saving more than $100 per year with insurance. if they don’t have insurance, they will save lot more.



The city has been having some major problems with the theft of copper in vacant houses, houses up for sale and heat pumps attached to houses even when there are people living in the house!!! They have been cutting them loose while they are running. It is happening all over the city but primarily in South and South East Roanoke.

The picture is what was left after our members Amanda and Dennis were robbed last week.

If you want to spend some money to protect your heat pumps from being stolen, contact our HVAC Sponsor, Tim Dooley as he has a solution.  I know it’s hard to come off some cash when it hasn’t happened to you but when it does you will surely wish you did. Click the Dooley Heating and Air Logo in our sponsor section.

Legal Aid & Ross Hart Will Be Speaking At REI of Virginia This Tuesday!

We’re having an interesting meeting this week. Our guest speakers will be David Beidler who is the General Council for the Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley and our friend Ross Hart of Hart & Hart Attorneys.

David graduated in 1984 from Antioch University’s School of Law, a liberal, legal services oriented law school. He became Legal Aid’s general council in 2010. David specializes in housing law. Last time he spoke with us was a few years ago.

Legal aid gets funding from portion of the filing fees that we spend to take someone to court.

I don’t hear many people in our group talking about getting sued by Legal Aid but from time to time it happens. I would say that most of our members know the law and follow it. I don’t agree with it in a number of cases but I follow it like a book as I am a law abiding citizen.

Ross has done a nice job over the past few years informing us of what the new laws are so everyone’s up to speed. And we have talked extensively about the do’s and don’ts of renting property.  Another nice thing about our group is you always have people to contact if you don’t know the legal way of handling something to keep yourself out of hot water.

My only experience with Legal Aid was a bad one. I had a tenant that owned a successful barber shop that must have lied about his income as he was taken as their client. I was suing him and they were there to defend him.

We had a contractual agreement that he does a few minor repairs in the house instead of paying a deposit. I won’t do one of those deals again. After a few months of living there he called code on me for things that he didn’t do. Things that he contractually agreed to fix. Those kind of deals can get messy.

He moved out of the house and decided that he wasn’t going to pay back rent that he owed. Legal Aid also felt like he didn’t owe anything. Needless to say the judge determined that I was right and he did owe rent so I won the case. But I had to hire a lawyer to fight it for me so the reality is I lost due to my legal fees. So overall I don’t have the best impression of this service that is supposed to be helping Low Income people in the valley. I’m sure they do good work but my only experience doesn’t show that.

I see the money that we give them being best suited fighting cases against the Western Virginia Water Authority, Roanoke Gas or American Electric Power. Maybe they are scared of taking on these Goliath’s. I don’t know. But I can say that I don’t see it as being fair that tenants move into a place and get charged a deposit from Roanoke Gas that represents the highest month deposit of the previous tenant who has no relation to them. It would be more fair to charge a deposit based on averages over the history of the property. Or when AEP refuses service to a new tenant due to a previous tenants delinquent bill. As if they have any legal right to do that. I’ve had a number of complaints from our members regarding that issue.

So come on out. It should be an entertaining meeting. As always we should be nice to our guests. But not afraid to ask difficult questions.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sound Familiar?


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Strongest Lease In Virginia Is Now Complete

What? The lease is done? Yes, you heard me right. The REI Lease is done. Years in the making. As with all leases it will be an ever evolving thing. However I can honestly tell you that I have never seen a lease this good. It covers all of the bases. We were fortunate enough to have the assistance of Roanoke's real estate expert attorney, Ross Hart. Ross looked it over in detail and gave us some great feedback.

This new lease helps set some standards in Roanoke. When someone rents property in Roanoke… This is the way it's done.

We had a number of meetings a good while back and went over each and every sentence, one by one. They were highly educational meetings and I learned quite a bit from them. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say about each item. And in doing so we came to conclusions on the best way to handle each and every situation based on our collective experience.

Dues are back around again as we are now in 2014 and everyone will get a copy of the lease when you sign up for the year. Please remember, not a single dime of this money has been spent to pay any of us. We are all volunteers. It is used on the equipment we buy for meetings, sometimes speaker dinners, cost to incorporate, mailings we plan to do in the future, legal fund in case the government gets way out of hand, expenses for going to Richmond to attempt to change laws, etc.

I can't wait to start using it!

This Week Terry Carico On Health Insurance In Todays Market

This Week our guest speaker will be our sponsor Terry Carico. He will be talking about our REI Group Health Insurance through Optima. Terry will be there to cover all of the details on the regulations that are in place and what the health insurance companies have to offer with the Gold, Silver and Bronze plans.

There are some differences between them. He will also be talking about the add on's that you get by belonging to the REI Group plan.

Good Stuff! Come on down this Tuesday and enjoy some time with fellow educated successful individuals.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Learn How To Use REI's Community Buying Group Benefits This Week And Save Lots Of Money

You missed a great meeting if you missed our special "Thursday" meeting with Keith Boley of . I thought he may be coming to sell some stuff. Actually that wasn't the case. He was there to unload his techniques of making money with other peoples money and short selling properties in association with another company he works with that does ALL of the work. Loads of great information at this meeting, even for those who would consider themselves experts. He has an interesting twist on making money in Real Estate that I haven't heard.

Keith is a really nice guy and it was a pleasure to have him.

This week we're going to have a "Go To Meeting" event where Community Buying Group will be connected up to us on a laptop that we'll project to the big screen and they are going to talk to us in detail about how to use our benefits. It's real important to take advantage of any discount you can get with your companies as money saved is money earned that you will keep in your pocket.

If you get this email you can get money off going to Lowes. And if you have a LAR account you can get an additional 5% off your 2% savings. And if you pay your card in full when you get the bill you can get an additional 2% off totaling 9% savings.

Sherwin Williams is also giving us a discount of up to 40%. Community Buying Group will show you how to get it. We also have discounts from companies such as Sears Commercial, Office Depot and Office Max, Buil-A-Sign, 4imprint, Rent Fast, Junk King, Sunbelt Rentals, Nu-Set, Kwikset, OdorXit, EZ Landlord Forms, and a number of other companies.

Come on down to our meeting this Tuesday evening. Lets get together and focus our efforts this year on making more money. As you know in my case it's a matter of reorganizing so I can make more money.

REI of Virginia is a college level educational organization that can and will put money in your pocket. Make REI a priority for the New Year to keep you mind on track and your pockets fat.

Time To Make Some Goals For 2014

What  do you have planned for 2014? Planned for your business and for your personal life if you have one…

2014 will be the year of restructuring my companies and setting up an infrastructure that works. I expect by the end of the year to be completely reorganized in a manor where I can focus on growth rather than day to day operations. 2013 was good for making money but I didn't grow my business much like I wanted to. 

I figured out the reasons why. My companies are experiencing growing pains. I buy a new house and it takes months to get it rehabbed. My guys are so busy with tenant maintenance requests, clean outs, city approvals, section 8 inspections, etc that they don't have the time to do rehabs anymore. They spend a day here or there on the rehabs so my holding costs are high and nothing gets accomplished within a reasonable amount of time. That will end this year.

I have 1 of 2 options, my contractor can get multiple crews going 24/7 with one or two always on the new rehabs and another always on the repairs or I will have to hire on another crew. That problem will be solved within the next couple of months. I have loyalty to my contractor / friend and will try to get him to step up and make some more money. Because I want both of us to grow together. And it's going to have to happen right away.

We are just now finishing an 8 month long real simple rehab on Harrison and now trying to get to my own house in Roanoke County finished so we can knock out my new office. Once the office is complete I will have the room to expand and hire a personal assistant so I can completely eliminate every aspect of property management from my life and focus on growing a strong healthy group of companies. It's been very hard for me to get anything done due to being spread too thin and that's going to change this year.

2013 was irritating to me due to my infrastructure problems. I now know what I have been doing wrong. 2014 is going to be awesome!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Virginia Court Rules And Procedures

See the list of rules and procedures for Virginia Courts below.

§ 8.01-126. Summons for unlawful detainer issued by magistrate or clerk or judge of a general district court.
A. In any case when possession of any house, land or tenement is unlawfully detained by the person in possession thereof, the landlord, his agent, attorney, or other person, entitled to the possession may present to a magistrate or a clerk or judge of a general district court a statement under oath of the facts which authorize the removal of the tenant or other person in possession, describing such premises; and thereupon such magistrate, clerk or judge shall issue his summons against the person or persons named in such affidavit. The process issued upon any such summons issued by a magistrate, clerk or judge may be served as provided in § 8.01-293, 8.01-296, or 8.01-299. When issued by a magistrate it may be returned to and the case heard and determined by the judge of a general district court. If the summons for unlawful detainer is filed to terminate a tenancy pursuant to the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act (§ 55-248.2 et seq.), the initial hearing on such summons shall occur as soon as practicable, but not more than 21 days from the date of filing. If the case cannot be heard within 21 days from the date of filing, the initial hearing shall be held as soon as practicable. If the plaintiff requests that the initial hearing be set on a date later than 21 days from the date of filing, the initial hearing shall be set on a date the plaintiff is available that is also available for the court. Such summons shall be served at least 10 days before the return day thereof.
B. Notwithstanding any other rule of court or provision of law to the contrary, the plaintiff in an unlawful detainer case may submit into evidence a photocopy of a properly executed paper document or paper printout of an electronically stored document including a copy of the original lease or other documents, provided that the plaintiff provides an affidavit or sworn testimony that the copy of such document is a true and accurate copy of the original lease. An attorney or agent of the landlord or managing agent may present such affidavit into evidence.
C. Notwithstanding any other rule of court or provision of law to the contrary, when the defendant does not make an appearance in court, the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney or agent may include in the affidavit entered into evidence pursuant to subsection B a statement of the amount of outstanding rent, late charges, attorney fees, and any other charges or damages due as of the date of the hearing. Upon request of the plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney or agent, if the court determines that the affidavit accurately sets forth the amount due the plaintiff, the court shall enter a judgment for such amount in addition to entering an order of possession for the premises.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Member and Very Good Friend, Walter Crosby Died.

I have some very bad news to tell you. Our good friend Walter Crosby died. He passed away November 16th which was just after we saw him at the meeting. I was wondering why he hadn't been around because almost always either Walt, his wife Carol or both of them were at our meeting.

I spoke with Carol. She was in a nursing home for rehabilitation services because she broke her hip. Walt was back home and was feeling bad. His kids were telling him to go to the hospital but he was being stubborn and didn't want to. He later died.

Carol never got to tell Walt goodbye. That's the one thing I struggled with when my dad died. He passed quickly as well. One day I'm talking to him and the next day he's dead. All I could think was wish that God gave me just one more day to sit down and talk with Dad about politics like we used to do and tell him how much I loved him. A moment I would have cherished dearly as all other similar moments were taken for granted.

As you may know, when a family member / business partner passes their death is often not the only thing that has to be dealt with. In the case of my dad, there were many things in the business that he took care of and we were left not knowing what was going on or exactly how to proceed. There was a rather large learning curve that had to happen for us to pick the pieces up and continue.

REI of Virginia is not only an educational organization but we are an extended family.  We are there to give a helping hand to our members whenever they need help. My heart goes out to Carol and her family in their time of need. If there is anything you can do for Carol please give her a helping hand. I can imagine that she will need some help picking up the pieces in one instance or another with their business.

Walt was a great guy. He was in the military. A few of our last conversations were about Deuce And a Half trucks. He knew allot about them. He was also a former HVAC mechanic and helped me solve some issues I had.

Please come and show your respect. His services will be at Unity of Roanoke Valley. The address is 3300 Green Ridge Rd, Roanoke VA 24019. It will be this Sunday December 15th at 3:00 pm.

Directions Click Here:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cox Home Security For You And Or Your Tenants

I don't have time to write much right now. I hope you all have a few minutes here and there to put some time towards looking into what happens to real estate in periods of inflation and deflation. That article I wrote and the link provided is essentially a beginner crash course on the subject. It was very well received as I had at least 60 emails from our members regarding the subject.

If you read it and were able to understand it you're a long way there. If you didn't you are more than welcome to ask me questions and I'll help bring you up to speed. Once you understand the impact of inflation and deflation you are armed with one of a few tools needed to read the future in our industry. Other tools include understanding the impact of population fluctuation, the basics of supply and demand, and cycles that happen over and over in our industry.

Educated investors win in times of uncertainty. They win big. And everyone else loses. This group is all about making ourselves money through our collective knowledge. We hit it on every angle. It's essentially an ongoing masters degree program for the intellectually superior. And it's fun so it doesn't even seem like we're learning.

This week we're going to have our vendor style meeting with a local rep for Cox Home Security named Laura who will be talking about their product for your own home and or middle to upper class rental properties as an upgrade that can potentially justify higher rents.

Essentially their product isn't only an alarm system that can send you photo and video of what's happening at your house but it also can help you save money by setting up rules for lighting and heating that can be managed right from your smartphone.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Read The Future For Real Estate

This is a picture of Weimar Germany during their period of Hyperinflation. Wheelbarrows of money bought a loaf of bread. People used money for wallpaper because it was cheaper than using wallpaper.

Serious condition? Yes, that's very serious. Much more serious than the United States Great Depression. And Germanys hyperinflation wasn't the worst in history. As a matter of fact it was the 5th worse. The worse was Hungary when rated on a scale of the average daily inflation rate.

Hyperinflation has happened time and time again in history, each of which were caused by the government printing massive amounts of excess money which devalues the currency. It's often used as another way to tax the people without them knowing it's happening. Your money is worth less due to inflation. More money in the system makes your one dollar worth less than one dollar as there is more to go around. Less money in the system makes your one dollar worth more than one dollar as they are harder to come by. The government has preached to the people that a little inflation every year is good. Good for who? Them or you?

I'll give you a list of a few of the countries that have suffered hyperinflation over the past 90 or so years. Hungary, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia, Germany, Greece, China 2 times, Danzig, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Taiwan, Peru, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Ukraine, Poland, Congo (Zaire), Russia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Soviet Union (prior to Russia), Georgia and Tajikistan. Many of these have been since the 1970's.

So, yes, it has happened many times in history and there is plenty of history to determine how and why it happens.

Typically hyperinflation takes place about 5 to 9 years after the representative government has printed additional currency with nothing to back it as the United States has done countless times over the past few years. And interest rates have been kept very low for a number of years now to hold off the inevitable.

So what does inflation have to do with Real Estate?

Stable Currency: If there were no inflation and no deflation than the price of real estate would remain relatively stable. It would have ups and downs based on population, supply and demand as a result of population fluctuation, and other cyclical events. Drastic change one way or another can be very scary. Massive wealth is made during times of drastic change.  Massive wealth is lost as well during times of drastic change.

A stable currency is not a Fiat currency as we currently have that's backed on nothing but the worlds personal perception. Rather it's a currency that is backed on a globally traded equity such as a precious metal. All fiat currencies in the past have failed. That's right. ALL. EVERY SINGLE ONE. And there have been many.

Those who are not positioned correctly will suffer tremendously. Those who wish to protect themselves will spend time understanding inflation or at least follow people who you are confident that do. That's why I'm writing this article for the group. I would like to start an ongoing dialogue on the subject. I'm no expert but I am learning about it and have a pretty good grasp on how we are affected by it.

Hyperinflation: During hyperinflation on the front side real estate goes up in value. The cost of all goods go up in value as the dollar won't buy as much as it used to each and every day it decreases in value due to the inflation. Mortgage rates increase as they reflect interest rates and interest rates tend to go up with inflation. Rents increase some but not comparitively to afford the higher adjustable mortgage rates.

Tenants that are on fixed incomes such as the elderly and recipients of disability checks will suffer the most and landlords who rent to them will find great difficulty in obtaining rent.

Landlords who use year to year leases and have mortgages will suffer.  They would be better off with month to month leases as they can adjust the rent as needed when adjustable rates drastically increase.

A moderating factor on the back side of hyperinflation is that when mortgage rates go too high people will stop taking out home loans and and the supply of available property will increase significantly causing a big pop of the housing bubble hyperinflation quickly creates as home prices drastically drop in value.

I have been a strong believer that the United States will face hyperinflation due to our politicians inability to adequately control their spending of our money.  My beliefs are based on historical events and if you know history you can read the future in many cases as we all know history repeats itself quite frequently.

Here's another look on what will happen regarding inflation as a result what they have done to us. This analyst has an interesting spin on the subject and feels more or less that people will suffer but it won't be as a result of hyperinflation but rather a result of a necessary pay down of the debt. They cover how the debt will be paid down and with who's "entitlements".

It's a long article that I didn't feel like reading but wanted to know about so I took the cheesy way out by copy and pasting it into a word document and then highlighted it all and had my computer read it to me.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Landlord Nightmare Stories Coming Up This Tuesday Near You…

First let me give thanks to our President Andy Stowasser for doing such a great job with setting up some really informative and fun meetings. It's not an easy job, I know that from personal experience.

This week he scheduled a meeting called Landlord Nightmare Stories. In this meeting we get to talk about the worst or most interesting things we've individually bumped into as landlords so we can learn from each other. It helps to hear what kinds of problems other landlords have encountered so you know how to handle it when it happens to you.

Did you have a con artist nightmare tenant put you through the ringer with the judge while they shacked up in your place and got free rent for months? How about a neighbor who tapped into your rental's power lines and ran your bill up for months before you caught them? Or a tenant that you had a past relationship with that turned the court room into another Judge Judy show? What about this, some real mean tenants that wanted to move and you told them that they will need to honor the lease agreement so they tried to burn your house to the ground? Or a few squatter families that lived in your condemned house that refused to move and the city wouldn't do anything about it so they filled all 11 toilets and 4 bathtubs with their feces and smeared it all over the walls when the landlord eventually forced them out?

Ohh, Whoops, that's my low income landlord drama…

There's an easy way and a hard way to manage your property. The easy way is to come to REI this Tuesday and listen to the stories that our members tell. Many of us have run into a number of interesting, irritating and or legal problems in our profession. It's good to hear these stories and how they were handled as it gives you an understanding on what to do or not do if and when it happens to you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rules Of Thumb for Property Rehabilitation and Maintenance

It's a simple fact that there are many people out there that want to get one over on you. It is unfortunate but I see the entire culture of the United States changing into everyone trying to get one over on the other guy.

Real Estate as an Industry has it's fair share of dirt balls around every corner. There are safeguards you can put in place to protect yourself. We often do this with LLC's, insurance, leases, etc.

One area of your business that can drain a huge pile of cash out of your company is your rehab and maintenance services. That's why it's so important for you to know how much money it should cost to do any repair to your property that you may need to do.

How do you know when your contractor or maintenance people are charging you too much to rehab a house or paint a room? Or when they come up with some figures that look legit but the reality is that they cushioned the materials so much they will be walking away with fat pockets when they are done with you.

Our experts Andy Stowasser and Dennis Miller will be at REI this Tuesday to give us a seminar on the general rules of thumb in our area regarding the pricing of jobs. They will take two different angles. The cost of fixing up a property to flip condition and the cost of fixing up a property to rental condition. That includes each and every aspect. From a new roof to flooring.

These guys did this meeting before and it was so popular that we asked them to do it again. They will also be providing us with a simple cheat sheet that you can use on each job to ensure that you are being treated fairly by your contractor.

Ladies, and gentlemen, this is not a meeting to miss. I can't think of one single meeting that we have had that has been more beneficial in helping our members save money. As you know, contractors prices are often all over the board. Don't let them stick it to you again. This meeting alone could save you thousands in 2014. Go ahead and reschedule your plans if you have to.

Come on down and have a good time with some of the nicest people in Roanoke. By Far, The Largest Neighborhood Organization in the city. Real Estate Investors of Virginia.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Binding Arbitration Clause In Your Lease

I'm happy to say we have a great meeting lined up this week. Roanoke's real estate law expert, Ross Hart, will be at our meeting next week to talk about binding arbitration clauses in your lease.

REI of Virginia's interest came about a few years ago when member CB Knox mentioned his use of an arbitration agreement in his lease. Later Dan and I went to a meeting legal aid was holding on nursing home law and they mentioned how difficult it was for them to sue any of the nursing homes these days because it has become standard practice for them to include binding arbitration in all of their contracts with the elderly.

This further confirmed the benefit of these clauses. The benefit being protection against being sued and potentially losing a suit that could end up costing you treble damages. A law that permits the court to triple the amount of damages awarded in cases where the defendant willfully acted in a prohibited way. Kind of like tenants refusing to pay rent when they know they owe it. But it doesn't seem to go both ways. This law is most often used in landlord tenant law against the landlord. Not against the tenant.

So lets say that the court determines that what you did requires all of the rent paid to date to be returned to the tenant. Maybe they are saying you rented a place without a valid certificate of occupancy. And they are confusing the difference between a certificate of occupancy and a rental certificate. And the total to the date of court is $5,000. If treble damages are awarded, the court is allowing judgement against you for $15,000!

I can't think of a better person to come and talk about this to our group than Ross. His family has been heavily involved with legal aid in Roanoke since its inception.

This isn't a ploy to get around legal aid. It's nothing more than an attempt to protect your interest. REI of Virginia does nothing more than preach being a good honest and ethical business person and following the direction of the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, weather you feel it is right or not. It's best to attempt to change a law you don't agree with than to break it as breaking it can come with some pretty serious consequences at times.

Regarding the binding arbitration agreement, it's important that it exists in all cases with exception of nonpayment of rent as it wouldn't be advisable to hold up the termination of a lease knowing that in most cases you will never be paid. That's why most landlords don't do mediation when asked to in court. Under nonpayment of rent conditions it is necessary to go ahead and terminate the lease agreement and get the judges final stamp of approval if the residents don't move out of the place given the 5 day pay or quit notice as they are required to do.

Ross is going to cover benefits and disadvantages of a binding arbitration clause. Maybe he'll throw in some information that tells us what the difference is between arbitration and mediation in non compliance of the resolution. What happens if you have to go to arbitration when the tenant is causing neighborhood drama? Or when they brought unauthorized pets in the unit and refuse to pay a non refundable pet fee and pet rent? What are the steps required by the landlord? What happens if there is an agreement made in arbitration and the tenant doesn't comply? What are the next steps for the landlord?

How about if the tenant has a grievance with the landlord… What is the process they have to take to bring the landlord to arbitration to develop a solution to what they see as a breech of our agreement? What happens if they hold their rent via tenants assertion with the court when it clearly states in the lease that arbitration is required?

Who pays for the arbitration in both cases and what amount of time is involved in waiting for an arbitrator? I'll bet it could be much faster than court. What if the resident doesn't show up to arbitration?

Good stuff this week people. Come on out to our weekly shindig. The mic will be open and if you have any other real estate law questions, bring them along with you. Ross knows his stuff…

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Final Vote On New Storm Water Utility Bill This Monday

3 city councilmen are up for re election soon. I'm curious how the general public will feel about them after they make their vote to give every homeowner and business owner in the city a new utility bill due to their lack of planning over the years and frivolous spending on pet projects, giving away $10 dollar buildings and taxpayer money to friends for their private businesses.

I'm guessing that they will have strong support and may even run unopposed. That's one of the problems with the city not having much owner occupied property and business owners primarily doing business in the city but living outside of it.

I saw an interesting lease clause in Jeffery Taylor's Lease Clause contest that would likely make their constituents squirm.

“ If any Federal, State, City, or any other governmental entity imposes any fee, assessment, or similar charge against the premises during the term of this contract, said fee, assessment, or similar charge shall be considered additional rent to be paid by the LESSEE.”

As Newton said, To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. However people don't always see that opposite reaction. Rents will rise due to the higher cost of doing business whether a statement such as that is in the lease or not.

Costs of doing business always pass through a company and land square in the hands of the end user. Too bad that most people are too economically ignorant to understand that. If they did they would be telling the city to make budget cuts rather than passing this cost along to property owners. I sat on the city council budget committee and can tell you from personal experience that there are many millions of dollars that can be cut from frivolous waste that would not cost even one city employee job.

The city council is supposed to be giving their final vote on your new utility bill this Monday. City council chambers at 7pm as usual.

Please see the message below from Dan:

Was downtown getting a permit today and talked to the city engineer that is the main guy with info on the water runoff project.
He said the council will pass it at the council meeting this coming Monday.I will be out of town but I strongly believe that REI should have another good showing and voice our concerns.Roger ,myself and a couple of other members spoke at the first meeting and we need to hit them again with all the waste and lack of funding set aside for this when they knew about it for 10 years.
Please forward to the group as this will happen before our meeting on tuesday.


Monday, November 11, 2013

How To Care For Your Rental Unit Addendum & Results Of A Lease Clause Contest

One of our favorite speakers, Ray Alcorn, is not able to make it to our meeting this week and has rescheduled. However, you don't want to miss this meeting because it will end up directly resulting in more money in your pocket.

This week we will have a group discussion on a few topics pertaining to leases, maintenance calls and your money.

Tenants can waste a significant amount of your time and hard earned money due to a lack of knowledge of minor general maintenance procedures that are required of any occupant of a house. There is a solution that will keep your money in your pocket if handled correctly and I am in the process of developing a lease addendum to do it.

Common Problems:

*  I'm sure you have heard tenants call you over the years about things such as an electrical outlet that is not working and it turns out that the breaker was off.  That simple mistake of theirs just cost you time and money.

*  Or a light that doesn't work and it was the light bulb, not the light.

* How about this, I have had this one happen to me multiple times. A tenant calls about their power not working and you send maintenance out there and it's because they got it cut off. LOL. Jokes on you though because they again just wasted your valuable time and money.

*  Have you ever had a tenant call you and tell you that their toilet is stopped up and your maintenance goes out there and finds that they are using one of those little thin plungers from the dollar store and a couple pumps of yours that pushes allot of water and air in the pipe instantly fixes the problem.

*  How about getting a call for a shower that is stopped up and it turns out to be nothing more than their hair as you pour down some Drano and it is instantly cleared.

* Have you ever had a tenant call you saying they saw a roach or some other kind of bug?

In order to do this properly, it's important at the start of a lease for your residents to sign something that indicates that all of the pipes drain freely, there are no bugs in the place, it is free of mold and everything is in proper working condition. This would be part of a Rental Checklist that they will complete.

What is also given along with the lease is a "How To Maintain Your Rental Unit Addendum".  It will explain what they need to do BEFORE calling maintenance. 

Smart landlords don't plunge toilets, don't change light bulbs, don't flip breakers, don't pour Drano and don't apply pest control gel bait when their tenants are perfectly capable of doing so. I'm not running a hotel. These people live in the house over a long period of time and there is some very minor maintenance that is required by them. I'll handle the big stuff.

So at this meeting we're going to have a conversation about common maintenance calls that we as a group get so they can be partially eliminated. I will use what we come up with to develop the maintenance addendum.

We will also talk about a list of tips that our member Doug Turner developed to give to tenants, most of which are along the lines of house rules and procedures.

And in addition we will have a discussion on an Effective Lease Clause Contest that Jeffery Taylor of Mr. Landlord had. Some interesting results.

Going to be an action packed meeting at REI Tuesday night at Shakers. Bring your friends, family and girlfriend / boyfriend. Don't miss it.

Last Week Property Management Software And Bobbed Deuces


Last week we had a presentation by me on property management software, Landlord Max. I personally feel that there is no part of my job that is more boring than the accounting part. So if you were bored with my presentation, don't worry, so was I.

I'm more of the sales kind of person and prefer finding and negotiating deals.

SOOO, instead of putting up a picture of Landlord Max I decided to put up a picture of something much more entertaining. A picture of my last deal. That's a 1969 M35A2C, otherwise known as a "Bobbed Deuce And A Half" with a Hercules Whistler turbo multi fuel engine.

So I've been looking for one of those for a few months now. The bobbed part is because the last set of wheels and frame has been cut off and a shorter M105 Military Trailer bed has been put on as the pickup truck bed. The multi fuel engine runs on anything like diesel, gas, kerosene, used motor oil, cooking fryer grease, etc. A Good Prepper Truck.

If you look online you will see these "bobbed deuces" starting at around $15,000 on up. Some tough negotiation with the bars I bought it from in Charlotte NC accompanied with some of my hard closing techniques and I turned that 15K deal into a $3,800 truck. I got every last dollar I could off that truck and then put it up for bid on UShip to have it delivered to me on a heavy equipment trailer.

That is one BIG truck. Need a ladder to get up in it. The door handle is face high. The tires alone are 4 feet high. Believer it or not, it's allot bigger than it looks in the picture.

So you ask WHY, Why a Deuce Dallas? Do you have a little man complex or something? The answer is YES I DO. I'm a Big man with a Little man complex.

And This Is What They Do:


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