Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Confucius Says: To Mediate or Not To Mediate

First of all I would like to publicly thank our president Andy Stowasser for being a nice guy and emailing me the name of our speaker. You should thank him too because he just saved you from having to read a book worth of information I was getting ready to write instead of this agenda. I’ll keep it short and sweet this time :-)

This week in The REI of Virginia Educational Institute we will be challenging the question, to mediate or not to mediate in our unlawful detainer court battles.

Our guest speaker will be Certified Court Mediator, Donna Chewning. Donna will be at our meeting to talk about the benefits of mediating our Unlawful Detainers. We will obviously also discuss the disadvantages.

This is a good meeting for REI to host because it’s a great time to talk about both the advantages and disadvantages of the use of mediation.

I can comfortably say that landlords in Roanoke overall don’t like to mediate as a result of failed mediation agreements in the past. The judges often tell the courtroom that the contested hearing dates are a couple months down the road to ensure that people will be motivated to mediate. However it’s extremely common for the tenant to not live up to the terms of the mediation agreement which will also dramatically slow down the timeline of removing them from your house so you can get a good paying resident.

As we all know, if you tell your bank, the tax man, your insurance company or any of the other creditors you have that you are going to be late because your tenant won’t pay you…… they reasonably won’t care.

This meeting will allow us to brainstorm for possible terms within the agreements that we can incorporate which will help ensure compliance. Here’s my on my own idea that didn’t end up working out. At the rehearing of one of my several failed mediations I asked the judge to hold the tenant criminally in contempt of court for breaking the court agreement to pay me. I will bet that I’m probably the only person who has ever asked him that as he seemed surprised to hear it. And he said no as I expected.

For those of you who haven’t learned this important life skill. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. And that counts for every aspect of your life. From when you’re low-balling a deal to asking the judge for a particular ruling in a court proceeding. And it is the exact opposite for people like me who are always asking. Those who continually ask for unconventional things end up getting unconventional things. Think about that for a minute.

Now back on track…

As most of us have found, when a resident fails to live up to their end of the mediation agreement, they will not be held accountable for their actions. Even though we have held up our end of the agreement by paying the seemingly never ending costs of owning good habitable property for them to live in.

That being said, there are areas that we should brainstorm to see what we can come up with to make these mediation agreements stronger and more effective for the property owner. Unfortunately as it currently stands, the negatives of court mediation far outweigh the positives. Our task at hand will be to figure out what we can incorporate into these agreements that will make them a benefit to all parties rather than just a time extension for the tenant.

Come on out, it’s going to be another fun meeting.

See you there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Towing Notice

Do you have a house where there is a car parked illegally, or a car that a tenant abandoned, or a car that keeps getting driven up in your front yard on the grass? In Virginia, by law, a landlord has to give a resident 24hrs notice before you have it towed. See the notice below that I tape on my tenants vehicle if they are being a PITA. Our member Robert Young (Robert Young's Towing) will tow it off your property for you at no charge. Just make sure you leave the proper notice. The tenant will be charged to get their car out of impound. Those notices typically get some pretty quick action from tenants that you keep having to tell to stop parking in the yard.

 Ohh Yea, if you have a train or an airplane or anything like that you want towed he can do that too.

Click on the image and it will become larger.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sweet Justice…

You rented to this family that you were confident were good honest people who will make themselves a home in your property for several years to come. You did a background check on the Virginia court system and they turned out to be crystal clean. Not a single crime, eviction or any form of debt owed by them.

What a lucky find you thought to yourself as you left your lease signing meeting. These ones are good. And they absolutely love the house. You and them walked through it and thoroughly inspected it to ensure everything is in good working order. Their kids are also remarkably well behaved for their age. Finally some good residents in this particular house that has seemed to be a continual source of problems.

3 months go by. Rent has been early every month. Then the 4th month comes and you haven’t heard anything from them. No rent payment, no text or call to let you know that there is an issue. So you contact your tenants several times and there is no answer. Maybe they have a different phone now because there is no voicemail.

You send out a 5 day pay or quit notice as required by law in Virginia when a resident is behind on rent. You still hear nothing from them. The only person who ends up contacting you by mail regarding this property is a city code enforcer. Wow, what a nasty letter he sent. And they didn’t even call. You had no idea that there was even an issue. You are now being held liable apparently for damage that the tenant caused to your rental.

That same code enforcer was in the house right before they moved in to do a rental inspection. And after completing a list of nit picky items you passed your inspection with flying colors. Your insurance company came out and did an inspection as well a few months prior to this.  They gave you a little list and you completed it. And a little over a year ago your house had a section 8 inspection for the last tenants. 

The point is, your house has been inspected time and time again. It’s actually one of the nicest houses in the neighborhood considering the fact that the owner occupied property around it has never been inspected.

You find it extremely irritating to get this love letter in the mail from code enforcement that threatens they will fine you $2,500 and put criminal charges on you for renting an unsafe property to these poor tenants. Especially considering the fact that that particular code enforcer was just out there a few months ago giving you a rental exemption certificate. They know exactly what kind of condition that the house was in when they passed it. And instead of holding the tenant responsible for the damage that they caused to the property, they threaten you with fines and criminal charges.

You look at the list of extremely unsafe items that they listed to warrant such extreme action and you see a very small crack in the sidewalk that they are calling a trip hazard. It was there during the initial rental certificate inspection and neither you nor the code enforcer noticed it then due to its insignificance. But since the code enforcer now is working with the tenant to destroy you it has become an issue.

They also listed one outlet in the house that went bad. So there is one legitimate complaint. But nothing that should require anything more than a phone call so you can send maintenance over to take care of it.

Ohh, and an outlet plate that is missing off the wall. It was there before. There are also smoke detectors that have been taken down and a couple missing globes off the light fixtures. The tenant says you rented it to them like that but that code enforcer knows that they wouldn’t have passed it the first time without them. But they are there to protect the tenant from you not protect the tenant from themselves. So they wrote you up for it. Especially since missing globes off light fixtures is such an extremely dangerous situation. Don’t you love living with this degree of tyranny? I don’t know how I would even run my life without the government guiding me through it.

They also wrote you up for moldy caulk in the bathtub. Apparently the tenant doesn’t know how to clean as that caulk was brand new when the rental inspection was done. And they wrote you up for some roaches too. Roaches that also weren’t there when they moved in.

You have in the past talked with their supervisor and he doesn’t agree with you that the tenant should be held accountable for their own actions. You also have talked to the city manager and several city councilmen about it. They also don’t agree that the tenant should be responsible for what they did. “Because it’s ultimately your house.” That’s what you keep hearing from these clowns.

You still haven’t heard anything from the tenant and you refuse to go in the house and fix a single thing that they have done to it while they are living in there. If you did they will likely damage it again. They aren’t paying their rent and obviously by the way they are ignoring you they have no intentions of doing so.

So the 5 days passes and you quickly file your Unlawful Detainer to put them out. You get a court date set for a month later. Over the period of time of waiting for court, you get a second love letter from the government. This time it’s from a police officer beating on your door. He is trying to hand deliver the note to you and confirm he brought it with your signature. Personal hand delivery is required for criminal charges. Turns out this was a promise to appear in court from the lovely code enforcer.

Your court date comes with the tenant and they don’t show. You are thinking you have a default judgement against them. Finally, this is over. But when you get called to the bench, it turns out that the court accepted a letter from the tenant contesting any amount owed. Because they are saying that they shouldn’t have to pay anything to you considering the conditions that you made them live in. They said the reason they had to send a letter is because their boss wouldn’t let them get out of work.

So the judge sets a contested trial 3 more weeks down the road. That’s as close as he could set it since they are short handed on judges. You’re now almost 2 months into this without a dime of rent. And you’re still making your mortgage payment, tax payments, insurance payments and every other cost of owning the house. That code enforcer is still getting paid with those taxes you have been struggling to get together as well. It’s just you that’s not getting paid. And it’s sucking the life out of all of the good paying properties. The profit from them is having to be used to cover the losses from that deadbeat tenant and deadbeat code enforcer. And the future losses of advertising it for rent again, fixing the list of new items that the code enforcer gave you, as well as another good cleaning and paint touchup, dump fees for the crap they left behind, etc. The damages and bills far exceed the 1 month deposit you got.

A couple weeks alter and we are now at the criminal court case against you. You tell the judge there that you are in the process of putting the tenant out and once they are out you will jump right on any issues they caused. Fortunately the judge grants you an extension with no fine allowing you some more time to get this taken care of. The code enforcer was nasty in court. Acting like they didn’t just check the place and showing all of their court pictures to the judge. You are trying to be nice because you know that the judge doesn’t like it when you retaliate against the government. They prefer that you just shut your mouth and act like a good little boy or girl and do as you are told without questioning the motives of the code official. So minimization of the drama and good behavior is how you handle yourself. Even though you feel like you are really getting the bad end of the stick and are not being treated fairly.

Finally…. the trial date is here. You had to hire a lawyer because your property is in an LLC. And you can’t legally defend your LLC on a contested trial date. You could go on your own but you wouldn’t be allowed to cross examine the tenant and ask them questions. You also wouldn’t be allowed to subpoena the code enforcer or whoever you need to support your case. If you wish, you could go without a lawyer and serve only as a witness for your LLC. But you have a much higher chance of getting beat by this deadbeat so you just opt to throw down more money and get the lawyer.

The tenant gives this big story of how you’re a slumlord and how horrible it was living there. They seem to have forgotten how happy they were when they moved in. And how they filled out that move in inspection report and wrote that everything was in good condition.

They proceed to show the pictures of the damage that they caused. And this is why they tell the judge they shouldn’t have to pay anything. The judge knows what they are doing. They see it all the time. They ask them why it was that they moved in if it was so bad.

You ask the judge if the court has received money via tenants assertion to be put in the courts escrow account. It is required that if a tenant has a maintenance related issue, they pay the court their rent and the judge decides who gets it.

This shows goodwill on the tenants part. It shows that they do have the money for rent and do want to pay it. That they just would like some issues taken care of.

I have quite a few units. And I can tell you that in the past 10 or so years that I have been doing this, not a single time, has any tenant put money in escrow with the court. And not a single time has the court scolded the tenant or sided in my favor as a result of them not following the law.

However I can assure you that if a landlord makes a single mistake, such as forgetting to send a pay or quit notice or filing the Unlawful Detainer a day early, the court will immediately dismiss the case and side with the tenant. It’s not a fair even system.

So the judge says that they haven’t put money in escrow as far as he or she is aware. And tells the tenant that they can’t expect to live in the house for nothing. The judge ends up giving judgement to you after knocking off some of the money you are rightfully owed. I guess to make it seem to the tenant that they were being fair. They also grant you regular possession. Which means that they have 10 days to appeal the judges decision to start the whole process of getting a free ride in the house all over again.

So you wait for the 10 days and file your Writ of Possession to get the deputy out there to put them out. As long as they haven’t filed an appeal.

You had to file the Writ because even though you have judgement the tenant still refused to move out. And believe it or not, you can’t legally go down there and start moving their stuff out of your house. You also can’t turn off any of the utilities that you have agreed to have in your name. Even if they aren’t paying rent. Even if you have judgement against them. You can’t turn them off until they are out of the house. So they are having a party right now with your furnace and the windows. This is one reason why you NEVER pay peoples utilities. Maybe the water if it’s a multifamily house. That’s it!

The tenant has decided to hold down the fort and get every last day of free living off of you. A few days after filing your Writ of Possession, the deputy calls you and sets the date. And 2 to 3 weeks after that, the scheduled final day is set. You are now at close to 3 months since you have got a dime of rent from this property. And it’s going to take you a couple weeks after they are out to get it fixed back up. As well as a few more weeks to a couple more months to get it rented again.

Hopefully they don’t go back to the judge and get a “Stay”. Which is a thing that has been happening lately in Roanoke City. This is where the tenant tells the judge some sort of sob story and the judge cancels your Writ of Possession you waited so long for and sets another court date to rehear the case yet again.

The life of a landlord is not easy …….

Landlording is definitely not an easy form of investing. It actually can require MORE physical attention than any other investment that I am aware of. Other than a full blown business that you have hired yourself as an employee of as well as investor / owner.

However, if you take this seriously, and run your real estate investment like a real business, you can profit tremendously from your efforts. MORESO than any other industry that I am aware of. That’s as long as every single thing is done correctly.

Critical components to this investment are that you bought it right and got the price down low enough where you were able to obtain a good cash flowing property. Don’t listen to these fools that would call looking for a cash flowing property bottom feeding. Being a smart investor is not bottom feeding. That’s ridiculous.

Buying property that doesn’t cash flow can only successfully be done by the rich. Just because it doesn’t cash flow doesn’t mean that it isn’t an investment. Consider the fact that cash flow isn’t your only income from a property. There is what is called unrealized income. Do remember that your tenant is also paying off your mortgages as well as future repairs, taxes, insurance, etc.

However, those that aren’t wealthy and are blindly riding by the seat of their pants who buy non cash flowing properties will within a few years get chewed up and spit out by them.

Beyond buying cash flowing properties, good landlording also requires being quick to take people to court when they are behind. Send your pay or quit notices out right away and file your UD’s as soon as you can.

And a good landlord will treat evictions like the plague. When you see there is one you put all of your attention towards getting rid of it immediately. You stop the bleeding promptly without any hesitation.

The rest of your life can get put on hold to work around the critical dates. Critical dates being the date you send out your pay or quit notices once rent becomes late, and the 5 to 6 day later date you fill out and file your UD’s.

After all of that work you had to do to get that nasty deadbeat out. After being treated like a piece of garbage by the city employee who doesn’t realize or care that you pay their salary. They have taken their position of power to a mini dictatorship level.

And after all of that time getting run around in court with these games that your tenants and code enforcement like to play together. It’s nice to……. Finally…….. get the Sweet Justice you so greatly deserve. It’s time for your payback to that tenant that put you through the ringer.

And that’s where our Tuesday night meeting comes into play. We’re going to have or member and friend, Alvin Franklin speaking this week.

Alvin has mastered the art of debt collection. And he is licensed to do collections in the state of Virginia. I have been told by several of our members that Alvin is really good at skip tracing these people. Running them down to find out where they are working.

Alvin is going to talk about a few things. He’s going to talk about what he can do for our group regarding chasing your bad debt. He’s also going to talk about investment potential with him by investing in other peoples bad debt and letting him collect on it while working out some kind of split between you and him of the profits.

And with the skip tracing capabilities that Alvin has, he also has the ability to do thorough background checks on prospective tenants. Alvin is going to cover those bases as well.

So it’s going to be a fun meeting. You should consider getting there a little early to get a seat. There should be a good crowd of people.

See you there!

P.S. - If you know of a place that has some more room, and wants our business, please let me know at the meeting. We’re coming into our busy time of year and it’s going to be too small in our currant location throughout the winter.

Our criteria are:
* Serves all kinds of alcohol, hard alcohol included.
* Can hold ideally 90 people or more.
* Has reasonable prices for food.
* Full menu. Does not want to limit us to 3 or 4 pre chosen meals.
* Is Ok with taking the good with the bad, some of our members refuse to tip or order anything. Although most order and tip well.

We don’t need suggestions of what places MIGHT meet the criteria. It’s a lot of work to go around contacting the managers and talking to them all about it. And there is no paid person working for REI to do it.

It would be better if you just kept your eyes open and if you notice a restaurant you’re already eating at, that has a good sized room that could hold us, ask for the manager and tell them the good and the bad. Ask them if they are interested in our business and let me know if they are.

Thank You!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cities All Over The Country Are Being Warned By Judges For Breaking The Law

“If there is one thing that every American understands, it’s that government officials don’t have the right to enter our homes unless they have a warrant or there’s a true emergency.” A quote by the ACLU of Virginia Director, Kent Willis.

As many of you are aware, the ACLU sent the city of Chesterfield Virginia a warning letter a few years ago that they may NOT illegally enter a property for a forced rental inspection where the owner OR tenant has told them they don’t want them there.

Legally a government official that is not allowed on a property has to take a few minutes to obtain a warrant if the tenant or owner doesn’t consent to the search. And that warrant will require probable cause that there is likely a hazard of eminent danger within.

Roanoke City has been giving landlords criminal charges and fines up to $2,500 for those that have refused entry which has been proven by several lawsuits to be illegal and a violation of the supreme law of the land.  The Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment protects the rights of tenants and owners to refuse warrantless inspections with impunity.

Kent Willis of the ACLU adds that “our Constitution demands checks and balances, and the check on code enforcement officials when they want to enter your home is judicial oversight.” The judicial oversight is the judge allowing or disallowing an inspection warrant based on wether there is or isn’t probable cause that there is a serious health or safety related issue within the property.

Cities across the country have been trampling on the rights of property owners and tenants and we now have another landmark court decision that took place in Portsmouth, Ohio.  Ohio landlords felt that rental inspections required to obtain a rental certificate were a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights due to the mandating of a warrantless inspection of their properties without probable cause that there is a health or safety issue within.  US District Court has yet again held rental property inspections to be unconstitutional and supported the rental property owners that filed suit.

REI of Virginia was able to obtain the 2 actual court documents that were filed by the Ohio landlords against the City of Portsmouth. Those of you who would like to see the motion for judgements that were filed, send me a request and I will shoot a copy over to you. These motions list several cases throughout the United States where cities have been reprimanded by judges for going beyond their legal bounds.

Unfortunately our government here in Roanoke City feels like they are above the law in not only this but several other areas. Even tough they have knowledge of these cases that prove they are overstepping the limitations put on them by the supreme law of the land. That darned constitution just keeps getting in the way of our local regimes desire for a police state governance with complete and total tyranny over the powerless minions.

REI of Virginia supports providing a safe and healthy environment for your residents to live in. REI of Virginia also supports the Constitutional rights that all citizens within the United States have.

The city is treading on very dangerous ground. They will be lucky if they don’t get faced with a massive Unjust Enrichment lawsuit to get back all of the money they have charged for these unlawful forced warrantless searches dating back to the initiation of the Roanoke City Rental Inspection Program.

I hereby request that the Roanoke City Government immediately terminates their unlawful inspection program making it strictly voluntary as it rightfully should be. All citizens have certain unalienable rights that no local government can take away. The entire Roanoke City code enforcement department and commonwealth attorney have been warned that they are breaking the law and have been given references to specific law suits for verification. Continuing to do so will be a clear sign of willingful and intentional neglect of the law which could lead to personal liability issues.

Real Estate Marketing Campaigns This Week At REI

Hi Everyone,

This week we’re going to have a conversation about various forms of real estate marketing campaigns. We’re going to cover what works and what doesn’t.

Direct mail to various “people problems” who have a high propensity to contact you is one of the most effective forms of real estate marketing.
And to make that marketing most effective it requires a high level of personalization. Which can be done on your personal computer with a data merge or on a variable data printer.

One trendy type direct mail campaign that has been popular with real estate investors for the past 10 or so years is called the Yellow Letter Campaigns. There are many versions of Yellow Letter Campaigns are out there these days. Many of which were designed by people who have no marketing experience.

At this meeting we will cover various campaigns and will talk about what works and what doesn’t work. And what type of content within the marketing will motivate a person to pick up the phone and let you give them an offer on their house.

I get a 25% response rate on the real estate campaigns my advertising agency created which are not Yellow Letter Campaigns. The average direct mail campaign gets a .5 to 1.5 % response rate. Good advertising is all about content, personalization and getting your company in front of the right people with highly targeted marketing. Lots of money is wasted by marketing amateurs blindly throwing piles of s*** at the wall to see what sticks. We’re going to cut through the ineffective garbage in these campaigns to show you want works and what doesn’t. A good integrated marketing communications program is essentially a road map to get from point A to point B the most efficient and cost effective way.

Come on out this Tuesday to get some tips on effective real estate marketing. And don’t forget to vote. Elections are Tuesday as well…

We’ll see you there!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pricing Damages In Your Rentals

Hi Everyone,

We have a really interesting meeting this week that Roger and Amanda will be leading. The topic will be pertaining to determining how much it costs to fix various common damages that your residents leave you with at the end of a lease.

REI of Virginia suggests having tenants sign a detailed pricing list of what you will charge them on a wide array of potential repairs. This helps eliminate arguing during or at the end of the lease with residents about what they feel like something should have cost vs what it actually cost.

Our objective is to develop a comprehensive list of potential repairs and prices that one could reasonably expect an REI contractor to do those repairs for. We intend on getting the repair prices signed off by an REI contractor to ensure that they are within the realm of being doable.

Come on out. There will be some great information that will come from this meeting!

See you there…

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Help For Veterans To Prevent Homelessness This Week At REI

Hi Everyone,

City Councilman & Veteran Bill Bestpitch contacted us a few weeks ago about a program he is in charge of that helps veterans from becoming homeless. Some of you may be aware that this program has been around for a year or so. Last time they came and talked to us there were some funding issues and they ran out of money really quickly. I was assured by Bill that those issues are now resolved.

What this program focuses on is both homelessness prevention and rapid rehousing. The rapid rehousing part of this program that concerns landlords is helping vets find a home. It helps them with their first months rent and deposit and possibly the first few months of rent until they are established and back on their feet with employment, etc.

Regarding the aspects of homelessness prevention, the program helps vets get back on track if they have fallen behind on their rent.

This week Bill will be sending out his team that implements the program. They will cover all of the details of this great program and how you as a landlord can participate.

Unfortunately I’m going to have to miss this one due to having metabolic surgery on Monday. I’ll be in the hospital for a few days and will be out of commission for a week or two after. This surgery will reduce if not completely eliminate my ever increasing list of weight related health issues including things that will eventually kill me such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, etc.

Statistically the odds are good that I will live through the surgery. Only 2-5 out of 1,.000 die within 3 months of having it. However the odds are very high that I will die young if I don’t have it due to my comorbidities and the poor statistical probability of a successful lifetime fight against genetic & metabolic issues related to inadequate production of the hormones leptin and ghrelin.

I’ll see you at the following meeting.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Make Money Wholesaling To REI of Virginia. Learn How At Our Upcoming Meeting…

This week we’re going to dig into the topic of wholesaling real estate. Our guest speaker will be our REI officer and good friend, Eric Schmucker.

Eric has been buying properties at radically discounted prices in Roanoke for several years. He also paid for a several thousand dollar real estate wholesaling training class for additional education for him and his brother from the people at Fortune Builders.

At our upcoming meeting, Eric is going to disclose several of the secrets to successfully wholesaling property.

Even if you’re not interested in personally wholesaling property this meeting will be of tremendous benefit to you. It will show you how to find your own wholesale property and get below wholesale deals for yourself. The better price you get the property for the higher your ROI is.

Get there a little early for a good seat. You don’t want to miss this one!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Lets Dig Into The Nuts And Bolts Of Commercial Property Landlording

This week we’re going to have our sponsor and commercial property expert, Frank Martin as our guest speaker. I was amazed last time Frank came. He is very well versed in the commercial investing industry.

REI hasn’t focused much in the past on commercial investing other than small commercial residential. Frank is going to give us the rundown on commercial investing as a whole and how to finance deals like these.

Great information! Get there a little early so you can make sure you get a seat.

We’ll see you there…

Some Insight On How Your Hard Earned Tax Payer Dollars Are Spent


What's Happening In Roanoke Regarding The Government And Real Estate?

 Maybe someone will read this and get some ideas on how to efficiently spend the money we give them. No one I know cares about our hard earned tax money spent to help people that REALLY NEED help. The government taking anything beyond that is theft. See my review of the 75 page document below.

Roanoke City Council Meeting September 21st 2015.

Acceptance and Appropriation of funds. This entire city council agenda is a good example of how the Federal Government taxes a tremendous amount of what you earn and turns around and gives it back conditionally to your local governments. Back when Abe Lincoln was president, federal taxation was 5% of what a person earned. And the Federal Government was only for united military protection against foreign invasion.

Our tax rate now is significantly higher. Below is an example of how the Federal Government was able to force every state and locality in the country to abide by what they want them to do. This is how we lost our state sovereignty. Or in other words how the states lost their ability to make their own laws. They tax the citizens of every state. If the locality is behaving and following what they wish for them to do, they can get some of that money back. If they don’t behave, their citizens will continue to pay the extraordinarily high tax rate but they won’t let them have any of the money.

1. Department of Fire Programs gets additional funding of $307,532. This funding appears to be from the Federal Government TO the State TO Roanoke.

2. The Federal, US Department of Justice gives funding to the city for bulletproof vests via a grant for the police and sheriffs departments. As long as they follow the terms, provisions and conditions of the Federal Government, they aren’t required to match any funding. They will be getting a 100% funded grant of $17,102.

3. The Department of Justice gives grant money $40,172 to the city for the bicycle patrol program. The Sheriffs department gets $26,782 for in car video systems. Again, there is no local match required as long as they follow the conditions of the Federal Government.

4. The Department of Motor Vehicles gives grant money tho the city to target people driving while intoxicated. This grant is for $21,440 and there is a cash match of $1,518 and an in-kind match of $10,720. It seems like the city only has to pay the smaller $1,518 amount they aren’t clear in the agenda as they refer to another city council meeting where they discussed all in kind matches.

5. The DMV gives grant money to the police for targeting pedestrian bicycle safety. This grant is $3,200 and requires a match of $1,600. They will use it for overtime pay for traffic enforcement.

6. The DMV gives money to go after speeding drivers. There is a cash match of $6,720 for this grant of $13,440.

7. The DMV gives grant money to the police for “occupant protection”. Most of these grants will be used for overtime pay. This one is $11,200. There is a cash match of $5,600 that they may not have to pay.

Here’s where the big money gets spent:

8. City approves a 2014-2015 annual evaluation report on the cities federal housing and urban development (HUD) funded programs. They are required to prepare a report that summarizes how they spent the Federal tax payers money.
The city reports that it is finishing up it’s spending on the West End Target Area. They have primarily increased population density by building many new houses rather than focusing the HUD grant money on fixing up the houses that are there.

The city now has transitioned to the Melrose Orange corridor for their next 4 to 5 year target area. They get roughly 2.2 to 2.5 million dollars from HUD every year to spend on low income areas. This money is required to be spent on various areas that are related to housing. This money is primarily Robin Hood money taking in the form of taxation from productive working individuals and giving it to non working unproductive individuals.

They have now started the 13th street infrastructure project which they say will benefit the West End. This is the final step in the revitalization of the West End. The 2.2 million has been spent in this area for the past 5 years. The previous 5 years prior to this they also spent it on South West Roanoke. That money was used in the Hurt Park neighborhood right next to the West End.

To give you an idea where this is, the West End is the Patterson, Chapman, Campbell area and Hurt Park is the Salem Ave, Rorer area.

They have demolished significantly more houses than they planned on during each year of the grant money to the West End. They have also built quite a few more houses than they planned on. Previously when they were spending in Hurt Park they focused their money on building Government housing.

In the West End area they give money to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity to buy ugly houses and tear down the house. The property is purchased at the city tax sale and by other means. They often pay 10 to 20K or more for the house and then they tear it down which costs an additional 10K. They then build a house that matches the neighborhood style for over 200K so they have a ballpark of 250K into the house. They then find a homeowner such as a Refugee or an English as a second language family and obtain financing for them with pre-made deals with banks to buy that property for around 150K. Banks have federal guidelines to make a certain number of loans such as this. The new owner gets bamboozled because they think they are buying a property that is worth 150k…….. but when they can’t make their mortgage payment anymore they find that they can’t sell their way out of the contract because the house isn’t worth more than 50 to 60K. It’s a big Loose Loose for all.

Rehabbing existing houses would be a more efficient and cost effective way to spend the tax payers money.  It would also help get the blight out of the neighborhood and help turn it back around. An extensive rehab to flip quality that compares to the neighborhood standard costs roughly 25K on a couple thousand square foot house. Purchasing the property for 10 to 20K and then rehabbing it adding another 25K to the purchase price puts the new homeowner in a situation where they can have a little equity in the property. The total cost in the property would be no more than 50K and organizations like Habitat for Humanity get lots of donated labor and materials so it would be much less than that.

In this better scenario, the city wins by getting the neighborhood fixed up and increasing their tax assessed values across the board. The neighborhood as a whole wins as each and every homeowners property will be more valuable. The buyer wins by not getting suckered into a loan that is much higher than the true value of the property. The bank wins because the buyer will be able to make the mortgage payments as they will be much lower and easier for them to afford. And the tax payer wins because ALL of the money is returned once the bank loan is made and it can now be used to fix up another. With a rehab strategy in mind, the same tax payer money will be able to be used over and over.

Unfortunately the board members of Habitat for Humanity locally are real estate novices and are doing nothing more than playing with the tax payers money. They are essentially playing their first game of Monopoly and their currant strategy is not the strategy any business minded person would take.

The city also used the HUD money on programs that give these special hand selected people money for a downpayment on the houses that Habitat built, or other homes in the city. They also spent money on homelessness prevention and other homeless needs, public infrastructure needs, and free rehabilitation of owner occupied housing. They plan on spending more money this year in the target area on code enforcement, new homeownership and these free downpayment 1st time homebuyer programs.

Another interesting fact that shows racism is alive and well in Roanoke. They get into some of the details of specifically how they spent this money. 65.4% of people in Roanoke City are white caucasians. The city has a very large population of whites below the poverty level. 29.0% of the population are identified as black or African American. The city used the HUD money to assist 219 black or African Americans. And 177 white’s or caucasians.

Participating organizations that have used the HUD money are:
- Habitat for Humanity who’s focus is on building new houses and getting downpayment assistance and financing for selected people. Habitat reports as to being successful in focusing on Refugees and English as a Second Language populations for their new homes and free downpayment to buy them programs. This clearly shouldn’t be a factor in determining eligibility for the assistance.
Homeless Assistance Team (HAT) has a focus on rapid rehousing of homeless
Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority has a focus on their Section 8 program and public housing.
Community Resources Division with this HUD funding reviews city strategic plans and seeks out opportunities for input into restrictive policies and procedures. These restrictive policies and procedures can be in all areas of the government including zoning, code enforcement, eligibility to assistance programs, etc. In 2006 the city significantly reduced affordable housing when they rezoned everything and restricted multi-family housing to very small pockets throughout the city. This was just prior to their building of several massive low income public housing units that they personally control. They have worked diligently to put low income individuals in small contained areas throughout the city. This is a form of income segregation and has NOT been a focus of the Community Resources Division. The Community Resources Division also monitors the liens placed on the houses of every person that they give downpayment assistance to. These liens drop off after a few years of program compliance and the money they have been given becomes a gift rather than a loan.
Blue Ridge Independent Living Center used some of this HUD money to provide home modification services for low income disabled families. Building handicaped ramps and helping those who are truly in need is something that I don’t think anyone would have a problem with. The problems reside in the vast majority of this tax payer money that is wasted on bad programs. Some of this special grant money that the BRILC got was used by the city itself to outreach to underserved populations to encourage homeownership and responsible landlording. The responsible landlording consisted of hiring a lawyer to do a few landlord tenant act training seminars.
The city is required by HUD in acceptance of the funding to provide housing counseling to assist families to better plan for their finances which they say alone will improve their financial situation. Job training would be more effective.
The city also meets with the Social Services and public and private housing organizations such as Roanoke Regional Housing Network, Blue Ridge Interagency Council on Homelessness, and the Housing Partnership at the Fair Housing Board to provide training and certification to over 400 realtors per year giving them their annual credits required to keep their license. Otherwise a Realtor would have to pay for their own required continuing education training.
With this HUD money the city also supported the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority with it’s submission of the Choice Neighborhoods Grant which if they got it would have provided several hundred new low income housing units. It appears that the city is focused heavily on becoming the largest low income landlord that it has ever seen.
Some of this HUD money was also spent on giving neighborhood associations money to spend on projects such as sending their members on vacations to national or statewide neighborhood conferences, getting neighborhood signs and trash cans, building covered bus stops, providing bicycle servicing stations, etc.

This is just a small look into just a couple sources of funding that the city gets directly from the Federal Government. This DOJ, DMV and HUD money is given to cities and towns all over the country. The Federal Government has found it to be an effective method of stripping the sovereignty from the states and localities. The money from the DOJ and DMV are required primarily to be spent on Civil Obedience. The HUD funding is Robin Hood money.

Beyond the shocking information above, below are other line items in the agenda that shall be discussed.

2:00 PM Council Meeting ONLY.  The 7:00 PM Meeting has  been canceled as there are no public hearings. Call 853-2541 if interested in being on one of the city boards.

Building and Fire Code of Appeals - Two vacancies.

City of Roanoke Finance Board - One Vacancy

Economic Development Authority - One Vacancy. Brian Redd resigns as the citizen representative of the Roanoke Finance Board and as Director of the Economic Development Authority as a result of a job opportunity in Charlotte NC.

Human Services Advisory Board - Four Vacancies. Robin Haldiman resigns from the Human Services Advisory Board

Parks and Rec Advisory Board - One Partial Term

Towing Advisory Board - Three Vacancies

Nominations being accepted for citizen of the year as well.

They will hear a report of the qualifications of Stephen Willis as a member of the Roanoke Civic Center Commission for a 3 year term.

AirBNB, Should You Be Free To Allow Guests In Your Own Home?


If So... Should You Be Forced To Jump Through Government Hoops To Do It?

 At a recent meeting of the Roanoke City Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA)(1), three people will be prostrating themselves before some local bureaucrats to plead for the special privilege of having guests in their own homes.(2)
Back on July 6th, City Council officially allowed citizens to rent extra rooms in their houses on websites like AirBnB.(3) (In case this is your first time on the internet, people use websites such as
AirBnB to make some extra money on the side. Despite the Council’s vote appearing to approve of this, the City does everything they possibly can to get in the way of it actually happening.  The blame for this falls squarely on our city manager, Chris Morrill.
In order to be able to have a guest in your house from a website such as AirBnB(4), you must:
Have a pre-filing conference with the zoning administrator,
Fill out an application and pay an application fee of $100,
Give a written narrative of exactly what you are going to do inside your personal home.
You also must follow the recently established “Four Written Standards for Homestay Establishments”:

That no changes shall be made to the exterior of the building.
That it shall have no more than 4 guests total and no more than 2 bedrooms for guests.
That they shall be not rented for more than 14 days.
That the owner must also occupy the dwelling during the time the guest is there (This is not the national standard. Some leave and let them rent the whole house, some stay and do it more like a bed and breakfast).
You then are required to submit a drawing, to scale, of the property interior. There are several other criteria that must accompany the drawing about the property.  There are some other hoops as well.  The City Manager also wants to confirm

That having guests in your home does not create an unusual demand on public water and sewer that exceeds the design capacity of the systems,
That it will not generate traffic on neighborhood streets or main roads that exceed the design capacity of the streets or create a dangerous traffic problem by virtue of driveway location, site clearance, driveway slope or any other factors,
That it does not increase the flood potential in the surrounding neighborhood and is also in conformance with the setback, yard, frontage, lot area, parking, signage, screening, shading, etc.
Yes, all of this is required to be able to have guests in your own personal home.  A final requirement is it must further the intent of the city’s comprehensive plan by bringing business to local business owners and also exposure to less popular parts of town. Isn’t that great? The city is doing all of this to help businesses!

The municipal regulations outlined above were not voted on by the city council. This tyranny is coming from the zoning department and city manager who heads all of the offices.   Our local power-hungry bureaucrats like nothing better than to make the people they purport to serve jump through unnecessary hoops to share their home with others and make a little pocket money on the side.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Use Laws To Reduce Your Tax Burden And Make More Money

The vast majority of our congressmen and congress women are involved in real estate investments. They pass laws and regulations that personally benefit themselves. This is why we have so many advantages in our industry. Many times when there is a law that appears to be restrictive, there ends up being a hole created somewhere else that prevents you from complying with that law based on varied circumstances. Loopholes are left open by our politicians to reduce their tax burden so they can become wealthy relatively quickly. If you keep abreast of what’s going on, you too will end up knowing where they are you can do the same.

Politics has everything to do with investing. If you were keeping abreast of global politics you would know like I do where you can get beautiful beach property for pennies on the dollar right now as a result of the dollar being so strong. And that property is going to appreciate tremendously within the next 10 years. What goes up comes down. The opposite of that is true as well.

A savvy investor keeps abreast of changes that are happening in the industry or industries that they invest in to determine where the tax advantages are so they can make a fair return on their investment.

This week our special guest speaker will be Jerry Dunnavant, President of Covenant Real Estate Services. Jerry will be showing us how to defer capital gains taxation through the 1031 Exchange and he will teach us about the Dodd-Frank changes that will occur on October 3rd this year.

As I said last week with Spanky Macher AKA Slumlord Millionaire. I said it will be a packed house and it was. I am telling you right now that it will be again. Over the years I have developed the ability to approximately determine the size of the group based on the topic. This will be a popular meeting. If you want to make sure you get a seat, you should get there early. And if you end up getting there late and don’t see a seat, no need to leave. Ask the waitress to bring some more chairs in. We’ll pack it in like sardines until we get a bigger room.

Do It Yourself Pest Control (Bad Infestations)


I have had many people within the past couple months asking me how to get rid of bedbugs and extreme cock roach infestations which are getting real bad in Roanoke right now. Over the years I have dealt with some extreme infestations and by trial and error have become a self taught expert.

I decided to write an article that will be going out with the email blast and will be posted on the REI website as well that I can send members to when they have a problem. Rather than explaining it to people over and over which is what I have been doing. This article is about how to get rid of a major infestation, not just a few here and there which can be dealt with by other means.

You have to hit them real hard to kill them all in a critical situation like this or you will be dealing with a never ending problem that won’t go away. If done exactly as I explain, you will completely eradicate every bug in the house (with exception of wood boring bugs) while keeping people and pets healthy. What I’m going to explain to you is very similar to the methods that you will read in forums that landlords nationwide have found to be effective. However I have my own very particular way of doing it that I have found to work well.

Fist things first, you need to explain to your tenants that you never take a mattress, couch, recliner or anything like that off the street again, even if it looks brand new. It is there for a reason and there is a high likelihood you will be bringing in a colony of bugs if you take it. And go ahead and let them know that you will treat the infestation for them but they are required to replenish their security deposit within X number of days.

If it is a heavy roach infestation tell your tenants that they can’t leave even a crumb of  food on the counter or a dirty dish in the sink. If they do they will be working against you by feeding the roaches and a roach doesn’t need much food to live. That includes not leaving out pet food.

No bug can live in an environment that everywhere they go they are walking in Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatomaceous Earth is a powdery type substance that is made up of prehistoric ground fossilized animal life mostly in the form of shells that have hardened to a sandstone type consistency. It is said, on a microscopic level, DE,  has sharp little edges all over it and it gets in bugs joints and cuts them open while drying them out.

So the first thing you need to do is to buy some “food grade” DE. You can get little expensive bags of it at Lowe’s or you can order a big 50lb bag from a place like 7 Springs Farm in Virginia which I have found to have the best prices. Most bags of that size you are looking at about 50 bucks for the bag and 25 for shipping.


You want to make sure that you are always getting food grade diatomaceous earth. They call it food grade because they feed it to cows, horses, etc to kill a bad form of bacteria in their stomach that will digest their food before their stomach has a chance to digest it and absorb the nutrients. They also blow it in the chicken coups to kill parasites that get on the birds. And they put a little in their feed to keep them healthy. 

People eat DE as well as a supplement. You wouldn’t believe how many people claim that it has cured them from all kinds of varied ailments. It is one of those “cure all” products like ACV ~ apple cider vinegar.

Regarding the application of the DE, you can’t just sprinkle some on the floor and expect it to work. Just like you can’t just sprinkle boric acid on the floor and expect it to kill bugs. You have to literally coat every square inch of the room, attic, basement, etc with a fine layer of DE. So no matter where they walk in the house they will get it on them.

In order to apply it correctly, you have to have a blower. I recommend the  Dustin Mizer blower so you can quickly get enough dust throughout the house.  All of the other dusters for sale are very small puffer type dusters and don’t put out much dust. You can buy Dustin Mizer blowers on eBay or Amazon. I don’t know of a store that sells them locally.

Have a look at the link below showing the blower in action using a different pest control product.


At this point you need to tell your tenant that they have to leave that dust on everything for 1 full month. You have to give enough time for the babies to all hatch out and get killed as well. So that means no sweeping and no dusting. If they want to dust off their food preparation area that’s fine. Yes it may be irritating to have this dust everywhere and leave it there but so what. Do they want the bugs gone permanently or not. It will kill them all. Fleas, bedbugs, roaches, ants, spiders, everything. And them and their pets will be safe in the process. If they don’t believe you feel free to eat some. The dose recommended online for humans is from 1 teaspoon to 3 heaping tablespoons per day. It’s a pretty remarkable product.

In Addition to DE Treatment, With Roaches:

Along with that, once the dust has settled, get a tube of some clear roach gel bait. I typically use Hot Shot Clear Roach Gel Bait.  Any kind will be fine. Squeeze out a pea sized drop and put them every 12 inches across the top of the kitchen counter back splash, down the side of the cabinets and across the baseboard of the cabinets. Then also run a line of pea sized beads down the side and bottom of the refrigerator and stove. Do the same to the bathroom cabinet.

Then after 2 weeks, come back to the house and do the exact same thing with the gel bait again to leave some fresh poison for the babies to eat. There are many roaches in the walls that will never come out but no worries. Roaches are cannibalistic. Several of those that came out and ate the poison will go back in the walls and die. They will eat the dead roaches and they will in-turn get poisoned.

In Addition to DE Treatment, With Bedbugs:
An additional step with bedbugs beyond treating the house with diatomaceous earth would be to get some bedbug spray like Hot Shot Bedbug Spray and treat the bed, couch and recliner. Take all of the sheets off and spray the mattress and box spring down. There is a little sewn flap at the top edge of a mattress. Look under that flap. That’s one of their favorite hiding places.

They can also hide in areas as small as a screw head hole. There can be 10 to 20 in one of those holes. So look the bed over very well and spray it down well.

On the box spring pull away some of that thin cover that goes over the bottom and hides the wood frame. Put your duster in that hole and blow dust in there as well.

Go around all of the electrical plug outlets in the room and blow the dust directly at it.  If you aren’t lazy you will do a better job by taking the plates off the electrical outlets and then blow them so you get it all in and around the insides of the box. They like to hide in those electrical outlets. There’s something about electromagnetic waves and bugs. They love to be around them.

Now once you’ve done that and instructed your tenant to take their bedding to the laundry mat and have it washed, you need to also instruct them on how to keep their bed bedbug free while we’re waiting for all of them to die off from the DE.

The next thing you or your tenant needs to buy are bedbug traps. These traps go under the bed and or couch legs. See pictures of the bedbug traps that are at Home Depot. They have a textured surface that allows the bedbug to climb up in it but a polished smooth surface that prevents the bedbug from getting to the bed leg so they remain trapped in the plastic device.

Now for these traps to work… you have to pull the bed away from the wall. If the bed is touching the wall than the bedbug can walk up the wall and on to the bed. You also need to instruct your tenants to not allow their sheets or comforter to touch the floor. If they do they will just take that route up on the bed.

Yes, this can be a real pain in the A**. Now if you don’t want to do it yourself, REI of Virginia recommends using a good, reputable, competitively priced pest control company such as our friend and sponsor Twoie Knox who owns B and C Exterminating. He can have it done turnkey by his crew. It’s up to you on how much work you feel like doing.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Original Spanky Macher AKA Slumlord Millionaire™ This Week At REI

Hi Everyone,

I’m pleased to announce that this week our special guest speaker will be my very good friend, Spanky Macher ~ Slumlord Millionaire™.

As you may recall, when we went to the Indy national landlord conference that had over 300 landlord attendees, Spanky spoke to the group and as he was getting cut short. An Indiana Congressman / Landlord behind me yelled out “Let Him Speak” and the whole room was chanting “Spanky, Spanky, Spanky.” It was unbelievable! I’ve never seen anything like it. He was the star of the conference there’s no doubt about that.

Now Spanky is taking his dynamic likable personality to another level. He has been getting quite a bit of national interest in his Slumlord Millionaire™ reality show. I’ve personally seen emails from national production companies that were literally begging to be a part of it. Spanky has declined because he already has an awesome producer that was trained in California and just so happens to live right here in Roanoke. I predict that this show is going to make it nationally. Spanky has the star quality that is needed to make it happen. And the concept is something that has never been done before.

At our meeting we’re not going to be seeing one of the shows but rather a landlord training program that Spanky has created that will be something that people who like the show can purchase.

This training program gives insights into how he bought 20 houses in less than 6 months. And when he came out he didn’t have a single tool left and his business was completely destroyed. He was so far behind on taxes that the city was right on the edge of selling everything he had. He didn’t even have gas money and had to move in with me to get back on his feet.

This Tuesday he will give a little background on where and how he was able to bounce back from this devastating experience. It’s a rags to riches story essentially. Something that you can do as well with the right training.

So this is the first draft of his training program. It will be available on his website and on the show once it’s complete. And you get to see it for FREE!


As a bonus he will have some excerpts from his book, Slumlord Millionaire,™  for everyone.

Going Forward:
Currently Spanky has over 150 hours of video for his reality show. He is putting together two pilots that will be submitted to the national TV networks. Once it is accepted it will be go time. He will need to put significant effort into quickly producing several more shows to fill out an entire season.

Fun stuff everyone!

I suggest you get there a little early. It’s going to be a packed house…

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Make Your Life Easier

I decided to start writing a little mini series of short articles on various aspects of technology that can help make your life easier. Lately I’ve been doing things with my company that reduce time and result in more efficient productivity.

I’m going to be honest with you. I would be considered a computer guru in comparison to most of the people in our group. And I am way behind the curve. I am not 100% up to speed with all of the new productivity tools that can be used today. So those of you who aren’t implementing technology in your company should consider trying out a few things that will make your life easy. Just one at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with it. Step 1 would be a business expense. Get a used iPad and I’m going to explain to you why below.

I bought my property manager / contractor an iPad 2 to start implementing technology to increase our workflow. I chose an iPad 2 because they only cost about $150 on eBay so it didn’t bite the wallet too hard.

I’m going to give you the benefits of having a tablet with you or your property manager at the property you are showing to prospective tenants so you can understand what you can do with technology.

Lets say you had a Section 8 tenant that called you and you told them the key code for the lockbox on your house so they can have a look. They call you back telling you that they like it and you or your property manager do your background check and meet them back at the house to sign the lease and get the first months rent and deposit.

You bring up the app Hello Sign.  This is the best lease signing app that’s out now. I’ve checked them all and most are very expensive. Hello Sign has your lease, property checklist, lead agreement, mold addendum and everything else on it. Your new resident signs and initials everywhere on the iPad lease with their finger and you email it off to the office so it’s there to be printed if you desire. You also send an email of it to the tenants email address if they have one. Later when Section 8 asks you to bring the lease down you also save a lot of time because you already have it signed in electronic form. You can just email it to them.

This lease was from the start an electronic version so down the road if you have to print off one for court you already have it in the computer and don’t have to waste time scanning it or copying it. You can just print it off.

While you were there at the house with the tenant and in salesman or saleswoman mode there were some bad things you had to tell the tenant. And you hate doing that every time because you have been Mr. Nice Guy salesperson all of this time and now you have to lecture these people you don’t even know to make sure that they change the furnace filters, smoke detector batteries, let them know that if they break something they will pay to fix it, that rent will be paid on time or you will sue them, etc. There’s lots of bad stuff you have to tell them to train and condition your new resident on the way things will go down when doing business with you.

So instead of all of that nastiness, you bring up the Rent Talk DVD which is a training video that nicely tells the new tenants all of the bad things that you didn’t like telling them. You tell your tenants that this video is called Rent Talk and the local landlord association suggests using it to remind residents of the responsibilities that the resident has vs the responsibilities of the landlord. It also has some nice things in there that tell a great new program you are offering. Residents get a 10% discount off 1 month of rent after 12 months of living there, 25% after 24 months and 1 FREE month of rent after 36 months. I would give a free month to any of my tenants that stayed for 3 years. These people deserve a reward. You want to treat your best tenants well.

You also use the iPad to take pictures of the unit at the signing of the lease so your new resident knows that you have a record of the properties condition. And you may even record a short video of the resident saying that they are happy with the property and are renting it in it’s as is condition. This helps put the thought in their mind that they can’t legitimately call code enforcement on you for damages that they did or things that weren’t 100% up to speed when they moved in. It also helps prevent them from using dirty unethical tactics to justify the non payment of their rent by telling the judge that you are a slumlord when the truth is that they ran out of money. None of them seem to realize that the judges hear that same thing over and over all day long and they are wise to those scams.

Isn’t it interesting how a tenant can be as happy as can be when they move in but down the road when they run out of money you all of a sudden become a slumlord. I think psychologically it’s because everyone wants to feel good about themselves. People don’t like to think of themselves as dirty scoundrels that rip other people off. So they look around and see a couple things that aren’t in 100% perfect condition and they justify it to themselves that you are a slumlord for letting them live like that and they shouldn’t have to pay rent as a result.

Well I have news for them. On the Karma scale, I win points for that and they lose points. It’s important to live your life and always try to do the right thing and in the end you will be the winner. Never stoop to their level.

Back to the iPad. With your iPad you also take pictures of all of your receipts and put them in an app called Evernote. Then you can just pile all of your receipts unorganized in a box if you feel like keeping them. The IRS has said that it is acceptable to have your receipts in electronic form. And Evernote will organize your receipts in categories of your choosing.

Since you are eliminating paper you better be sure you have a good backup of your computer just in case something happens. So you get Crashplan which is, in my opinion, the best off site backup system around right now. I researched them all and for the buck Crashplan wins. It can be free if you are backing up your office computer to another computer at your house or something. And it costs $60 to backup one computer to the cloud or $150 for a family plan to back up several computers to the cloud. The backups are unlimited and fast. And one more thing, automatic. You just set it up and it backs up everything. Every single thing. Unlike many of them that will only back up videos etc if you go back into the software and find each and every thing that it didn’t backup and configure it so it will. What a pain in the A** that I don’t have time for. I like it easy and Crashplan is easy.

So that’s it for now. More getting you up to speed with landlording business technology later if our members respond that they like this kind of stuff.

Monday, August 10, 2015

This Week Disc 2 - Landlord Training

Don’t forget and accidentally drive to the wrong place! We are at Jersey Lilly’s across from Lewis Gale Hospital now.

This week we are in disc 2 of Robert Sherman’s guru training session. This is where we start getting into the meat and potatoes of the training.

I was impressed. Robert has some great ideas. I especially liked the idea of creating a list of costs for all common items that a tenant can damage and having them sign with the lease agreeing to those costs. That would prevent a lot of future arguments. 

Some people that didn’t come to the meeting asked me didn’t I get antsy  sitting there listening to the CD the whole time. And the answer is slightly but it was well worth my time. The CD is set up nicely where it has breaks throughout and every time there was a break we had a short discussion which broke it up nicely.

Some valuable information is coming out of this training.

We’ll see you there!

Monday, August 3, 2015

How Come THAT Idiot's Rich And I'm Not!

Hi Everyone,

We secured a new location for our meetings. They will  now be held at Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Grill, 1650 Braeburn Dr., Salem, VA 24153. This Jersey Lilly’s is off Electric Rd across from Lewis Gale Hospital.

Message from our President Andy Stowasser regarding the upcoming meeting this Tuesday Aug 4th:

"One thing that everyone has requested over the years is to have a national speaker come speak to us. That is prohibitively expensive and so not reasonable. But what do we really want? Their presence? or their knowledge?

Well since we have a great sound system (once we figured out how to use it) why not employ that?

So next Tuesday what we are going to do is to play a CD on Landlording. I have purchased a CD set from an real estate investor on landlording and it is very good. There are four CD"s and they are about an hour long each. CD one is a bit slow as it is a preview of what is going to be taught, CD's 2 and 3 are great and 4 is again a bit slow. But there is a wealth of information there. He has some of the same principles as Jeffery Taylor (believe he was using them before Mr. Taylor was) So 8/4 is CD 1.

His name is Robert Shemin and he has written several books, the most notable one being "How come THAT Idiot's rich and I am not'.

I have also figured out how to play videos through the laptop and sound system so that will also be an avenue of information going forward.”

So come on out to the meeting this week. Should be a lot of good information.

See you there!

Monday, July 27, 2015

This Week Nothing. We Got Kicked Out

This week our guest speaker will be no one. Because we have been kicked out by the Brambleton Deli and are struggling to secure another location again. And once we do (I have no idea when that will be) I will do several hours more of work changing where we meet all over the internet. If we were getting paid for all of this bouncing around this could be a real money maker for us. Too bad we’re all volunteers.

We were told last week that we had several members in our group that would not eat and would just get water or nothing. The waitresses told us they only made $282 in total sales the previous week and “Ben” was mad. Amanda asked them if that was our notice and they said no. They said they wouldn’t do that to us and just throw us out with no chance to secure another location. But when Carla talked to Ben he said we’re done effective immediately when she asked if we had a couple weeks to find a place. He wouldn’t have us in there for even one more day. Which was a very nasty, mean spirited thing to do.

That’s pretty bad business I would say. Actually it is pretty shocking. That level of unprofessionalism is something I would expect more from a company like the Water Authority than a private business that has a good reputation… I thought. I guess he didn’t realize that there are 550 members of this group and all of us know and understand how a good professional business who values their customers operates. I will never eat there again there are plenty of other choices in Roanoke.

They clearly weren’t counting all of the alcohol that we drink in the bar afterwards as well. Ohh and I guess Ben didn’t consider the fact that the waitresses wouldn’t give anyone a menu or ask them what they want to eat. I have never been to a place that didn’t ask you what you wanted to eat. That was a first for me.

This was the process I personally went through each time there. And I was told by several other members they experienced the same. Each meeting I tried to flag them down to bring me a menu. Sometimes that took a while. Then I had difficulty trying to get their attention to order from that menu since they wouldn’t come back even though they knew I wanted to order. I would then get my food which was good. But every single time they wouldn’t bring silverware so I had to try to get their attention again for that. There were also difficulties keeping drinks full.

The waitstaff were nice. They just seemed to be highly inexperienced and weren’t trained to know that when a group is in a room you go to every single person and give them a menu and ask them what they want to eat. And beyond that, trained waitstaff also up-sell people and ask them if they want dessert or if they would like a mixed drink or something.

My point in telling you this is I can understand both sides of the argument. Ben clearly hasn’t done his job training his waitstaff. However I do know that there are some people that come to the meeting and get nothing. There would have been significantly less if they asked everyone what they wanted.

We need to do our end of things which is to eat in the restaurant since they are providing free space for us to meet. We have a couple of options. We can charge significantly more dues to cover the costs to meet in a hotel conference room or something in rows of uncomfortable chairs with no tables, food or drink or we can meet in a restaurant.

We decided to keep the dues down and have our meetings in a restaurant. There is NO restaurant that wants to give us free space to have our meeting without making some money off that space on their food and drinks.

Those of you that just want to get a water or something and prevent the restaurant from earning some money for that space that they give us to pay their rent / mortgage and other expenses don’t need to come to the meetings. Sorry I’m telling you so bluntly but that’s just the way it is. I can tell you for a fact that all of us officers that are doing this free volunteer work every week to keep the group going will quickly lose interest in doing so if we have to continually find a new place to eat due to complaints from the restaurant that there is a large portion of the group that isn’t getting anything. 

So those of you who won’t buy anything, shame on you for making us have to do all of this work to find another place. And Ben the head honcho of the Brambleton Deli, you should consider training your waitstaff properly. It’s not their fault they don’t know what they are doing. It’s yours!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Agressive Collections


We’ve got a great meeting lined up this week. Our speaker will be the very man who showed me how to correctly fill out my first garnishment. This man’s name is Spanky “The Collector” Macher.

This Armenian gentleman will be showing us how to effectively collect debt by every legal method out there that doesn’t include sending Bobbie Knee Caps or Johnny Knuckles.

Learn the how to procedures of debt collection as well as the pitfalls that you may experience. Learn the law from the creditor’s side of things and strategies the creditor can use to effectively collect debt.

Come on out, it will be a fun meeting!

See Ya Later, Alligator…

Strange QR Code Popping Up All Over Town

I’ve seen this strange QR Code popping up all over town. Strange because it’s nothing but a giant QR Code. Don’t know what it’s all about but it has some really interesting things in it pertaining to Roanoke City Council at their next meeting stealing property from some people and the sheer magnitude of job loss that we have experienced over the past few years in another article. Use your QR Code reader on your phone. If you don’t have one there is an app called RedLaser which is a great really fast reader. And if you don’t have a smart phone this link is where the QR Code takes you.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Dirty And Potentially Illegal Tricks Roanoke City Government Plays On Unsuspecting People At Tax Sales

Dirty Tricks People Play For The All Mighty Dollar

The tax sale is Tomorrow Wednesday July 15th at 12PM at the Roanoke City Civic Center. This message is a reminder to those of you novices that don’t know what you’re doing. The city WILL take you for a ride and you need to know and understand that before you bid. Be very careful making a deal with the city because they feel like they are above the law.

Roanoke City has a tax sale of real estate every 8 months to a year. I’ve attended every single one for the past 10 years or so and have purchased a few properties from these sales. I’ve learned allot of lessons over the years and the city has taught me that they can not be trusted and are willing to stoop to low levels that are shocking and most likely illegal.

It is important to expose this corruption within so those who are leading this city have an opportunity to resolve the issues and terminate the city employees who are taking part in this. I am expecting some changes to be made this year regarding disclosure as some people high up in the government ranks were shocked last year when I exposed the scams that were taking place amongst low level government employees. But I can tell you for a fact that they did not terminate any of the employees that were responsible and I could name each one of them.

Below are a few issues that I have personally witnessed or have been a part of. I’m sure there are many more.

Sales Advertised With Guaranteed Clean Titles Are Not Guaranteed Clean:
Roanoke City advertises in their tax sales that they are giving you a property that has a clean title and is free of all claims. I purchased a property back in 2007 that had a serious title problem. Years before the property was sold with the wrong lot information, it was mixed up with the lot next door. Which means the person next door actually is the owner of the property. No title company would insure it therefore no bank loan could be obtained as a result of the title problem and ability for the next door owner to lay claim to the property. I contacted the attorney working for the city at that time and he told me that’s your problem and sent me packing after paying 35K for the property. So lots of money and work for my attorney and we were fortunately able to get a clean title.

Property In SE Roanoke Torn Down Just A Couple Days Before The Sale And The Contracted City Attorney At That Time Contemplated Not Telling Buyers:
Roughly 5 to 7 years ago I was driving around last minute, a couple days before the sale, and saw one of the houses that was advertised for sale being demolished. When I got to the sale there was a photo of the house not demolished. I overheard the same attorney as before with my title problem talking to the guy in front of me. He was telling him that it was demolished but they seriously considered not telling the buyers as they don’t legally have to do so. I was shocked. It’s Unbelievable that anyone would even think about doing that. I’m sure that most people already did their research by driving around and viewing the properties long before I did and when they were looking at it it was there.

City Rezones Property And Hides That The New Owner Will Have To Convert It To Another Use:
Every once and a while the city rezones properties across the city. I think the last time they did it was in 2006. The law is that if a residential property is vacant for at least 2 years than it loses it’s CO and has to revert to a single family house. Almost every house at every tax sale has been sitting vacant for at least 2 years. It takes 2 years of non payment of taxes in order to be able to sell the property to get their tax money.

When a multifamily house is sold at these tax sales and you look online on their GIS you will see that they will leave the property listed as a multifamily even if they are going to force the property to be reverted to a single family due to sitting vacant for too long. Most people do not know these laws. Fortunately I have been doing this stuff for long enough to know what the city will pull on people as they have attempted to do the same thing to me or fellow investors I know.

If the property was rezoned as single family and sat there for 2 years the city will not let you keep it a Multi family. They will force you to get a permit and revert it to a single family house which could bankrupt someone who was not expecting those additional costs and just getting started out in investing. I have seen it time and time again.

There are MANY examples of the city hiding this information at the sale. As a matter of fact, Not a single time have I ever heard the city disclosing this information. Unsuspecting buyers pay big bucks for these properties thinking that they are able to continue operating it as a quad or triplex or duplex and then later find out that they have to dump many more piles of cash into it to bring it to the cities new requirements. Often they don’t have the money to do so and the deceptive practices that the city takes part in end up ruining the rest of their life due to that bad investment.

Take the property at 608 8th St SE that was sold at a tax sale many years ago. And the house is still sitting just as it was. The only difference is now the neighborhood gets to continue to look at that eyesore because the government hoodwinked the buyer who significantly overpaid for the house because he thought he was buying a Quadraplex. I bid on that house but couldn’t justify more than 5K due to the knowledge of the games that the city plays with peoples lives. This poor guy got in a bidding war with other novice investors and ended up sinking 20K into the property before any work was done.

Or look at a couple tax sales ago and the property at 1509 Chapman Avenue. Which appears to be a duplex to the novice however it was rezoned a single family house and will be required to be converted by the novice investor. Wow, wait until they find that out. And guess what. That property is back up for sale again. I wonder if the city gave the poor person their money back.

I’m willing to bet that I would hear some city employees defending their non disclosure of this information while stating that they legally don’t have to. I would find it hard to believe that they legally would not be required to disclose something of such significance. However if they aren’t required to do so they still have moral and ethical behavior that we should be able to count on.

If you are reading this and you agree with what they are doing and are saying in your mind that an inexperienced investor should not be warned  about this as they should have done their due diligence, than you have something very seriously wrong with you. Yes, I am calling you out specifically. You need to get help. You are an evil heartless person and need to go back in your hole. That’s right… I said it!!! The world would be better without people like you.

Now don’t get the impression that there was some big slip-up and the city “forgot” to tell the auctioneer. This happens at EVERY tax sale. And at EVERY tax sale the city pays it’s code enforcement department with tax payer money to be at the sale over in the corner taking notes on who the next owner will be as their attack will follow the new unsuspecting owners purchase. 

City Has Detailed Knowledge Of Serious Problems With A Property And Hide This Knowledge From Buyers:
Another property went up for sale at the past tax sale that had a huge fire in it a few years back. The city condemned the property after the fire and boarded it up. This property was 819 Campbell. The only reason I know that it burned is I own a property behind it. You can’t easily tell from the outside that this property was destroyed. I am being told that this year they will disclose information regarding fire damaged properties. I wonder if they will disclose which properties that are multifamily that they are going to force to be turned into a single family. Or any of the other dirty things they have up their sleeve.

I bid on this fire damaged property because I specialize in extensive rehabs. However I was only willing to bid at most $3,000 as it would take a substantial amount of money to rehabilitate it. Most people couldn’t do it.

Even though there were a number of the code enforcement staff and management in the building, they all decided to deceptively hide the fact that they condemned this building due to a bad electrical fire in the basement. I have been told by an unnamed city employee that they have, in their possession, a file on this property that includes all of the pictures of the damage etc but were unwilling to disclose it. It’s the law that things like this are disclosed by Realtors and knowledge of something like this and not disclosing it is FRAUD.

I have been told through the grapevine that in most cases they will not allow someone to back out of money owed to the treasury department but will make exceptions when friends of the city are involved. In this case the unsuspecting bidder of this property backed out which leaves the city offering the property to the backup bidder which was me.

So I contacted the auctioneer to purchase the property. But in doing so found that the new attorney used by the city who is responsible for the tax sales has a “friend” that he was trying to give the property to and they are not interested anymore in selling it to the backup bidder which is standard procedure. NICE, again this kind of corruption these days should be expected from our local government. The end result is the property didn’t sell as this message went out last year and we ended up exposing what was happening. There was a day and time where you could count on and trust in what government does but I’m very sorry to say that that is a time that has come and gone…

You may be saying… Dallas, if you have the knowledge of this, why don’t you stand up at the tax sale and warn people. Well, my answer is that I did. Both me and Dan tried to tell the auctioneer, city employees and other buyers at the sale that the city was advertising an incorrect higher Tax Assessed value of every property but we were quickly shut down as the auctioneer referenced his communication with the city attorney regarding people speaking up at the sale. He then restated that they are correct tax assessed values. The reality is that they were last years higher tax assessed values and no representation of todays assessed value.

So what do we do about it? Actually I don’t know the answer to that. That’s why I’m writing about it. It can serve as education to novice and moderate investors.

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