SF Apartment : April 2018


A Taco-licious Trade Show

On Monday, February 26, SFAA welcomed hundreds of regular and associate members to its annual trade show. This year’s theme was “South of the Border” and the association did not disappoint. SFAA’s dedicated staffers decorated with festive pinatas and colorful tablecloths; they also provided free margaritas, cervezas and even a taco truck for attendees at the Fort Mason event.

Trade show participants also added their own flair to the event. West Coast Property Management, for example, had stress balls that looked like limes as a free giveaway to visitors to its booth, as well as shot glasses with their logo. “They were made up especially for the event. We don’t keep them around the office,” laughed WCPM Assistant Property Manager Melissa Caudill.

Caudill said that many members were coming over to their table, not just for the fun giveaways, but also for some advice about property management issues at their buildings. She and her coworker, Melissa Garcia, were happy to help. “I think it’s important that our owners from the city are knowledgeable,” Garcia said. “Knowledgeable owners help us do our job better.”

In order to help with that goal, SFAA provided several free classes at the trade show. First, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spoke on water conservation tactics. That talk was followed by a market update from James Wavro. The organization tries to bring in speakers that will discuss the timely topics owners are clamoring to hear about, explained SFAA Education Specialist Stephanie Alonzo.

To that end, SFAA’s own Charley Goss spoke to the crowd on two topical subjects: new fire safety laws in the city and the possible measure to repeal the state’s Costa-Hawkins Act on the November ballot. “The Costa-Hawkins Act is the main law that allows people to sustain and maintain their buildings through the restraints it places on rent control,” said the organization’s government and community affairs manager. “Costa-Hawkins is really, really important for our members so it’s our main legislative priority for this year. We’re trying to educate members so that they know what’s at stake, but also so they’re able to contribute, volunteer and take action.”

Also hoping to educate members was Susan Giaquinto, owner of Great Escape Fire Escapes. In addition to delicious chicken tamales and fun taco keychains, Giaquinto brought along two distinctly different fire escape barrels to decorate her table. One was an old barrel with a rusted cable and a dangerous removable handle, which Giaquinto says her workers often find when servicing older buildings. The other was a modern one-piece barrel that will last for the life of the fire escape. Giaquinto says many owners don’t know about the possible lifesaving benefits of making this simple update, and others don’t even know that having regular fire escape inspections is San Francisco law.

Giaquinto says she is constantly amazed that, with the sheer number of rules and regulations governing San Francisco apartment buildings, mom and pop owners still want to manage their buildings themselves. “If they didn’t have the SFAA meetings to go to and, as a reference, the ability to call the SFAA, I don’t know how they would do it,” said the long-time member, who added that she has had a booth since the very first SFAA trade show.

But it seemed that for every trade show veteran there were two new associate members excitedly attending their very first event. Often these members were offering a new technology or online service to help owners navigate the market. “With market rents softening upwards of 10 percent in some cases, people are really going to benefit by being more mindful of what they’re spending money on and tracking revenue sources and projects in a different way,” said SFAA Deputy Director Vanessa Khaleel. “People are going to have to get creative and open themselves to new technology to help their net operating incomes.”

Maksim Ioffe of SubletAlert.com was very eager to introduce his time- and money-saving technology to members. His service allows owners to monitor if their units are being illegally rented out on Airbnb or other home sharing sites for a low monthly fee. “We just ran into one of our first customers from when we started in 2014 and he told me that we should come here to do the show,” he explained.

John Cranston of SYNCrew also connected with SFAA through a long-time client of the mobile workforce tracking system. “It’s a great way to make sure the time part-time employees are saying they’re working on something they really are,” he said.

Since property management companies and others with self-reporting employees out in the field are one of their prime customers, Cranston said coming to the trade show was a no-brainer. “A lot of our customers locally are members of SFAA so we thought it might be fun to see some of our customers, and maybe we’ll also meet some people we don’t know,” he said.

Liz Koser, head of business development at Keepe, also said the trade show provided “a good combination of talking to independent landlords and existing customers.” The tech-driven on-demand maintenance solution matches vetted contractors with maintenance jobs, she explained, adding that the company is headquartered in Seattle but Bay Area customers make up over a quarter of their business.

Caudill of West Coast Property Management said she was keen to learn more about Keepe, as well as the other new tech companies that might help WCPM and the industry at large in these quickly changing times. “There’s a lot of new concepts and new vendors, but we’re all in the family of property management” she said.

Evictions Down 12 Percent

Evictions in the city are down 12 percent with many types of evictions down much more than that, according to a new report from the San Francisco Rent Board. Overall, 1,657 eviction notices were filed with the rent board between March 1, 2017, and February 27, 2018, compared to 1,881 last year.

“The largest percentage decrease was in roommate eviction notices which went down from 73 to 22 notices, followed by eviction notices for habitual late payment of rent which decreased from 110 to 59 notices,” according to the report. Owner/relative move-in evictions also dropped considerably, from 397 in 2016-17 to 297 in the most recent figures.