My family has been in real estate rentals in some fashion or another since the 1950s, when my great-grandparents first moved out to California and bought a mobile home park in Pomona (we still own it). My grandfather followed in a similar fashion, and bought a few more parks, portions of which were passed down to his children and grandchildren, including me. My slice of the mobile home park empire is very small, but it gave me a tiny start, and a good window into real estate investments.
My mother is a CPA, and from a very early age, she schooled me in all things financial. I began helping her prepare tax returns for the family partnerships and LLCs when I was 16 (which is 20 years ago now—yikes!), and these days I’m primarily in charge of that task. I know my way around tax returns and balance sheets and amortization schedules. My regular job is as an attorney, but from January through the end of March, my weekend job is as an accountant and tax preparer for the extended family.
In 2003, my immediate family (mom/stepdad and siblings) bought a 22-unit apartment building in La Habra, California. We managed it ourselves from 2003–2010. I was involved in just about every step of the process, from screening tenants, running rent comps, preparing rental agreements, dealing with tenant problems, evictions, etc. We hired a management company in 2010 for a number of reasons, and as much as I am a do-it-yourselfer type of person, it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It kept us from killing each other, and it was just too much work for me to manage 22 units and still keep my full-time stressful job. I’m still heavily involved in the management of the building, but my workload now is more about supervising the management company and making the “owner” decisions (things like how much rent we should be charging), rather than dealing with vendors and returning tenant security deposits and running credit checks.
From 2008–2014, I also had a rental condo (my old residence) that I rented out after moving into my current house. The rental part was fine, but the HOA was horrible, and it just wasn’t a great candidate for a rental property, so I sold it in 2014.
Now we’re about to sell our apartment building, so I’m looking to take my portion of the proceeds and buy my own tri- or fourplex with it. I’m also considering other options, such as flipping foreclosures. We’ll have to see how that shakes out.
You may have seen on my profile that this is not my first blog. My first blog was started a few years ago. That one was more like an online diary, where I shared mostly funny stories about things that have happened to me, as well as a few harder, deeper, emotional posts. After a year or two of posting at the old blog, I sort of lost steam, like the vast majority of bloggers do. I think part of the reason I stopped posting was that I felt like I was talking to empty air, and the things I was posting about were either frivolous or deeply personal, so I didn’t feel like I was adding much value to anyone. Laughter is worth something, but talking about yourself all the time can feel pretty self-indulgent and hollow after a while. At least it felt that way to me.
With this blog, I have different goals. I realized that my life has given me a lot of experience in personal finance, real estate, retirement planning, rental properties, and similar subjects, and I enjoy reading others’ blogs on those topics, too. I’m hoping that because the focus of this blog is more targeted, some of these posts might be useful to some people. It would be even better if you readers would comment about their experiences, so I can learn from you, too.
If you have any questions, comments, or feedback of any sort, please feel free to reach out to me. Hope you enjoy the blog.