Vacation Rental Scams

By PacificRimPropertyManagement | Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Management , San Diego County , Uncategorized

A vacation rental is a great option while traveling to have the comforts of home. However, scammers love to take advantage of vacationers by making false promises and creating a sense of urgency to fool them into paying for something that doesn’t exist.

How the Vacation Rental Scam Works:

Con artists post listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. They then lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. Typically, the “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – maybe another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get you to pay up before doing sufficient research.

Another common travel scam is the timeshare resale con. A timeshare owner who is looking to sell gets a call from someone claiming to be a real estate broker or agent. These scammers claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase. To secure this service, the scammer pressures the target into paying an upfront fee. The timeshare owner pays up, but the reselling agent never delivers.

Tips to Avoid a Vacation Rental Scam: 

Talk with the owner. 

If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email. Many vacation rental scammers don’t live locally, get the owner on the phone and ask detailed questions about the property and local attractions. An owner with vague answers is a clear red flag.

Some reputable vacation rental websites are: airbnb.com, vrbo.com and redweek.com. For long-term rentals, check out our vacancies.

Check public records. 

Investigate on Google or another search engine. Look up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the property matches the one advertised. Also, verify distances to beaches, attractions and airports while on the site.

Look for reviews and ask for references. 

While you’re vetting properties, check online reviews. Some vacation rental websites provide an opportunity to rate the rental property as well as the owner or property manager. If the property you’re considering doesn’t have any online reviews, ask for references and call them. Again, listen for vague answers, this may indicate the reference is simply a friend of the scammer.

Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card. 

Never pay for a vacation rental by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once you send the money, you have no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card is your best bet to avoid being out money because of a shady vacation rental. If your rental ends up being a scam, you can dispute the charge and dramatically limit your liability.

If it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t. 

Scammers lure in targets by promising a vacation rental at low prices. Do your research. Be suspicious if the listing you are considering is much cheaper than others in the area. In general, free online ad services are also going to be more risky than a site with fraud protection features.

Garage Doors – Legislative Alert

By PacificRimPropertyManagement | California State Law , Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Maintenance , Property Management , San Diego County , Uncategorized

California, in 2018, experienced its most destructive fire season in history. Widespread power outages made it difficult or impossible for some to escape. Some residents perished because they were unable to manually open their garage doors.

Reports from the 2017 Northern California fires recounted stories of neighbors stopping to help raise garage doors. Some people did not have the strength to manually open their door. A mother struggled to get her disabled son into a car because their custom van was in the garage they couldn’t open.

State Bill 969 Will Open Garage Doors…

On September 1, 2018, Governor Brown signed SB 969 into law. This legislation requires newly sold or installed garage door openers, for residential use, to have battery back-up.

SB 969: The Facts Behind Garage Doors!

  • The law goes into effect on July 1, 2019.
  • The law applies to all new residential garage doors and garage door opener installations.
  • Home owners will need to install a battery back-up opener when a new door is installed, or when replacing their existing opener.
  • A battery back-up function is required for automatic garage doors that are manufactured for sale, sold, offered for sale, or installed in a residence, and must be designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage.
  • A violation of this law will be subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 per opener.

The Immediate Impact:

The full impact of this new law is still unknown. It will, at least create a new disclosure and inspection item when selling a home. Real estate sales agents will need to ascertain the date of the door opener installation. Home inspectors will need to test the battery during a home inspection when selling a home. Battery back-up may require periodic testing for rental properties.

Are you searching for a cleaning company?

By PacificRimPropertyManagement | Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Maintenance , Property Management , San Diego County

Selecting cleaning services is common practice for our Property Management brokerage. Refer to the following tips on hiring a cleaning business or individual cleaning person:

Some tips:

Do Your Research: Ask friends, family members, and neighbors to recommend a reputable cleaning business or individual. You can also check out the businesses through bbb.org. Beware of businesses with poor reviews and multiple complaints, more importantly see how they address them.

Interview Candidates: Interview multiple candidates to determine if you would rather hire a large cleaning business or an individual person. During the interview try to meet with someone from the cleaning business. The best option is to meet with the person who will actually be cleaning your home. Find someone you feel comfortable with, since they will be working in your home.

Check Credentials: We recommend you hire a licensed, bonded and insured business or individual to work in your home. This will protect you in the event something is broken, stolen, or if someone gets injured on the job.  Be sure to request a background check for the employee/s that will be working in your home. You may want to complete a background on them yourself for peace of mind.

Request References: Ask that the business or individual you hire provide you with a list of references you may contact. When speaking with the references, look for a business or individual that has repeat satisfied customers. Ask the references about the services they use and if the business lives up to their expectations.

Discuss Cost: Determine whether you will need to hire the cleaning service for service on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, and ask about their pricing. Find out exactly what is included in their services and make sure it encompasses everything you wish to have cleaned. The business should walk through your home before giving you an estimate. Does the cleaning business provide their own cleaning supplies? If not, the cost of the services should be less expensive. Keep in mind, the least expensive cleaning services may not be giving you the best deal for your money.

Get Everything in Writing: When you decide on the company to hire, make sure you have a written agreement. The agreement should spell out clearly what the cleaners will be doing in your home.  Define a reasonable time limit for the tasks to be done each day the cleaners come to work.

Prepare for the Services: Before the cleaning business arrives at your home, it’s important to put away any clutter. For example, put away jewelry and other valuables, and warn the cleaning business about pets living in your home.

NOTE: 

Pay attention to words like “licensed,” “bonded,” and “insured” when you hire a cleaning service. Do not take anyone’s word for it. Check your local laws to see what is necessary for housecleaners and verify what the vendor claims. 

Get a copy of the company’s insurance certificates with the name of its insurance agent and carrier. Call to verify that the cleaning service’s bond and policies are in effect. Note the dollar values and coverage limits. Is the dollar value on the bond or policy high enough to cover your house? Also check to see that the company has its own workers compensation insurance policy. Avoid the risk of being sued, if an uninsured maid or cleaner is injured in your home he/she may sue you.

Definitions:

  • bond is a form of insurance that protects you from criminal acts by the people who will work in your home.
  • Insurance protects you if the cleaning people cause an accident, such as forgetting to shut off a faucet or losing a key. (This is typically referred to Liability and/or Worker’s Compensation Insurance.)

5 Best Areas to Live in San Diego County

By PRPM | Homeowner / Renter Tips , San Diego County

Top 5 communities in San Diego

To say you live in San Diego is already a privilege that many love to boast about, but to say you reside in these 5 areas around the city, can make bragging rights all the more superior. Variances around the county make living in one spot or the other “best” for whatever it is you are particularly looking for. You may think that having accommodations within walking distance makes your town appealing or maybe it’s because the housing is more affordable compared to another area. Whatever the draw is, here is a list of the 5 most sought after communities within San Diego.

1) Carlsbad- Best place to leave your car at home and bike around town. The city has gone as far as to change its streetscape to accommodate more bike riders and make the bike-riding enthusiasts safer.
Median home value $721,000
Average rent $3,163

2) South Park- Tiny neighborhood with a tight-knit small business affinity. Eclectic shops and eateries in abundance.
Median home value $425,800
Average rent $1,741

3) La Mesa- An urban vibe feel without the noise and price tag of downtown. Filled with mom and pop shops, art and public parks.
Median home value $468,350
Average rent $2,127

4) North Park- Pedestrian friendly, plenty of coffee shops, cultural entertainment and craftsman style homes. Currently San Diego’s craft beer hub.
Median home value $484,500
Average rent $1,910

5) Chula Vista- School district alone is motivation for making this neighborhood one of the top. First in the county to be accepted into the “Live Well San Diego Initiative”
Median home value $464,720
Average rent $1,747

Overall you can’t go wrong with our perfect weather and picturesque location. It all comes down to what is priority #1 for you, your family, and your lifestyle. America’s Finest City has something for everyone.

Top 10 School Districts in San Diego County

By PRPM | Homeowner / Renter Tips , San Diego County

Top 10 School Districts in San Diego

Buying a home in an accredited school district is a top priority for many potential San Diego homebuyers. If you have kids currently, planning on starting a family or just looking to maximize your resale value of your investment, looking into the school district should be on the list. The making of a great school district has many ranking factors such as test scores, college readiness, SAT scores and teacher quality. Here is a best of list based on some of those factors…

  • San Dieguito Union High School- Award winning district that serves our Northern coastal cities as well as Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch.
  • Poway Unified- Largest district in the county and also ranked as the safest.
  • Coronado Unified- Serves students throughout 5 schools and holds the honor of having some of the best teachers in the state.
  • Spencer Valley Elementary- 9.9 square miles in the north east mountains of San Diego. Ranked #1 Safest District in California.
  • San Marcos Union- Also on the honor list of Top 10 safest school districts and reaches over 49 square miles.
  • Carlsbad Union- Accommodates more than 11,000 students that entails 2 high schools, 3 middle schools, 9 elementary and 2 alternative schools.
  • Grossmont Union High School- Noted as one of the most diverse in all of San Diego.
  • Chula Vista Elementary- Spans 103 square miles and serves 298,000 residents. 47 schools including 7 charters.
  • San Diego Union- Makes the #17 rank on the list of most diverse.
  • Lakeside Union Elementary- Known to have some of the best teachers in all of San Diego.

Parent or investor, you’ll want to pay close attention to the district your home is located in. Whether your motive is educational or financial, where the school closest to your property ranks could make all the difference.

Rental Scam Awareness

By PRPM | Homeowner / Renter Tips , Property Management

Rental scams are as old as the landlord-tenant relationship. The oldest most common scams were landlords keeping the security deposit, but now with the spread of technology, the opportunity for fraud has never been greater. The most current and frequent rental scam is people with no legal right to lease a property, leasing it to a potential tenant and making off with deposits and rent. Another common fraud practice taking shape right now is charging multiple potential tenants fees for background checks and taking off with that money, which can be significant. Preventing many sophisticated scams can be hard, but here are 12 tips that can help minimize your risk.

  1. Never Deal In Cash: Always make sure to leave a paper trail. Also avoid wiring money to anyone.
  2. Demand A Written Lease: Oral leases are valid in some states, but can be potentially problematic. As a tenant, demand a written lease and a signed copy. Get everything in writing to lay out the responsibilities and rights of both parties.
  3. Never Rent Sight-Unseen: Absolutely see the place before signing a lease or transferring funds. Not only does it prevent fraud, but allows you to see the pre-existing condition of the space you’re about to rent.
  4. Meet The Landlord In Person: Some scammers will readily meet tenants in person, many, especially ones who operate out of the country, will not. Many out-of-town landlords are legit, but insisting on a local landlord or property management company will make fraud less of a thing and this can also lead to a better service relationship in the long run.
  5. Talking With Current Tenants: Occupied properties are far less likely to be fraudulent. If there is a chance to speak with the current renters it may be in your best interest.
  6. Make Sure The Lease Identifies the Owner and/or Agent: Also take note of the lease in making sure it discloses information for a person who is authorized to receive notices and services. Double check the owners/agents addresses too. Make sure the address is not the same as the listed property or a PO Box.
  7. Identity Of The Actual Owner: Looking in from a tenant’s perspective it’s not always easy to determine who is authorized to lease a property. You should be able to do minimal research in county records. The owner’s identity should always be available unless it is a Land-Trust. That requires a little more work.
  8. Conducting Basic Research: Good Old Google. Take some time to do a Google search. Google the address, owners name and Management Company. You can also dive into property records and find out of it has ever been foreclosed on or sold to a bank. Both should be avoided, as these are targets for scammers and poor management.
  9. Be Aware Of Market Rates: Pay attention to housing market trends. The market for rentals is especially hot in the summer so beware of any deals being offered at far below market rent.
  10. Watch Out For High-Pressure Sales Tactics: Even though a landlord may have many potential applicants, be wary of anyone who attempts to get you to sign or lease, or hand over a substantial amount of money, right then and there.
  11. Use A Licensed Real Estate Agent: Having an agent represent you is a significant safeguard because it is less likely that a scammer will list a property with an agent and if you do fall victim, you can hold the agent responsible.
  12. Avoid Sub-Leasing: It is extremely risky for all parties involved. If taking over a lease is what you desire, work with the landlord to terminate the old lease and sign a new one directly with you.

In hindsight; be proactive. Be aware, and be proud. It’s your hard earned money being vested here.