Residential Property Management/Rental property in California

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Question
Hi Mike,

Thanks for your time. I live in the San Fernando Valley, located in southern CA.

I'm trying to figure out if it makes more sense to buy a piece of property with a house or duplex on it that is zoned for more rental units and then build those units, or to just buy property that already has three or four units on it.

Also, do you have any idea on who could help with making a large piece of property profitable. It's kind of out in the middle f nowhere, about 40 minutes away from a small town and already has 3 or 4 small houses on it. I think you can do some hunting on it at least one month a year and it has a swimming pool. It's located in southern California near Ventura.

Any general advice for a total novice at buying rental apartments would be great! Do you know the Burbank, CA area?

What do you think in general about investing in southern CA? It's so expensive and the rents aren't comparably high, it seems.

Thank you!

Answer
Hello Rachel,

First, investing in SoCal will likely always be a worthwhile consideration, IF the numbers work out. By that I mean the projected rents generated will cover the expenses, plus a return on your investment. I would not get trapped into the idea that break-even cash flow is enough. Although it's true that you may benefit from appreciation, and that tenants will help pay down the mortgage, you should still factor in profit for the investment to make sense.

A remote property can be tricky, so you'll need to determine if there's a demand by tenants to rent in that area. You can speak with a local real estate broker in that area who should be knowledgeable as to what the demand might be. Of the two avenues you mentioned below, that depends on whether there's strong demand. If so, buying an already fully developed property may be the best bet (assuming the price is right). If demand is questionable and you don't mind the risk, then you could consider the site which affords future development opportunity. Just be sure to check local zoning ordinances to verify you would be able to add units, and also note that development costs can be substantial.

Since you are a novice, I strongly advise getting a real estate broker to work on your behalf. Doing something like this without professional advice can be costly! Unfortunately although I know a bit about that area, I wouldn't be the best person to represent you as you should have someone in the local trenches and is knowledgeable of the intricacies of that market.

Best of luck.

Residential Property Management

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Mike Fortunato

Expertise

Very familiar with all aspects of property management (tenant/landlord issues, lease administration, facilities maintenance, financials, etc). 25+ years in property management

Experience

I have been in real estate management for 25+ years, both residential and commercial properties. Currently own and operate a commercial and residential real estate management company in southern California.

Organizations
IREM; BOMA; MLS; National Association of Realtors; California Association of Realtors

Education/Credentials
CPM (Certified Property Manager) and RPA (Real Property Administrator)

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