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For many Bay Area investors, self-managing a property is the answer. But having such a hands-on approach to investing can prove quite demanding. Our guest today is Doug Brien, CEO of Mynd Property Management. Doug will be discussing with us the reasons for hiring a property manager and why doing so may prove to be one of the best decisions an investor can make—especially in a dynamic market like Vallejo.
Alex Osenenko: Boys and girls, Alex here with Mynd Property Management. Today, we’re talking about investing in Vallejo, California real estate, specifically. So we’re going to go deep on this topic. I have a guest to help me unpack all the intricacies of this particular topic. My guest’s name is Doug Brien. Doug, how are you?
Doug Brien: I’m doing well, how are you this morning, Alex?
Alex Osenenko: I’m doing great. So, Doug is the CEO of Mynd, but—I think more relevant for this particular topic—back in the day, Doug was a founder and CEO of a company called Waypoint, which purchased over 750 distressed properties in the Vallejo area over the years. And so, he’s got a wealth of knowledge. We’re going to try to unpack some of it and see if nuggets of wisdom fall out and help investors think about Vallejo real estate. Doug, the question for today’s topic is: do you really need a property manager in Vallejo?
Doug Brien: Yeah, I think it’s a good question. You might not like my answer, because it depends. Everybody hates that answer. It depends. Depends on what? but it really actually does depend. I have talked to a lot of investors who like to manage and in some cases, I think, you know what, if you have the time to do it, clearly have a passion for it and enough experience to do well, you should be doing it. It makes total sense for that individual to do property management.
And then there are others who are clearly property managing to save themselves money. They’re not paying a property management fee, but they end up costing themselves a lot more money with standard vacancy, picking the wrong tenants or picking the wrong rent. These are all very, very expensive and I would look at that individual and say, you need to hire a property manager.
So, I think at a high level, what we each need to do is ask ourselves, how do we want to spend our time? What is our time worth? What are we good at? Where do we add the most value? I think the best real estate investors are really good at building a team and having really honest answers to those questions because then they can decide how their time is most effectively spent. And what are the members of the team—a cohesive team can do everything well? What does that look like? So, I think, depending on that answer, it is going to guide you towards whether you need a property manager in Vallejo. I would highlight that, while I think there are some interesting opportunities and upsides in Vallejo, there are also some traps. It’s a very block-by-block, house-by-house type of investment market. And so, you really need to know the market. And there is also a very diverse mix of potentials residents and I think you have to really know what you’re doing to pick the right resident. Because of those mistakes, it can be very expensive. I think you better be really sure you’re strong in that area if you’re going to try to self-manage. But if you are, go for it and you can save on the property management fee.
Alex Osenenko: Yeah, that’s very good. So, I spoke to the investor yesterday. It comes a story, right. This was a little bit shocking. This gentleman owns nine properties and manages them all himself. And he’s got a full-time job in the Bay Area—our normal type of investor that we see in the Bay Area. And so when I said, “how much time do you spend, on average, managing your properties per given month?” he wouldn’t give me the answer; except, he told me this story.
He said, “well, let me give you an example, Alex. We rented a boat in Tahoe. I had my family on the boat and my daughter picked up the phone to take a picture of us—a family picture. And, as soon as she picked it up and said, ‘Dad, your home in Phoenix is flooding’.”
So, they’re out on the boat. He can’t do anything. And the problem was the plumber he had (either) quit or was no longer in business. And so, this was a challenge.
Like, I rented a house once, myself, and I was only a few minutes away from it, but I hired a property manager because I don’t have a team. To me, that’s key. You mentioned having a team—that’s such a key aspect of it. I don’t have electricians. I don’t have plumbers. I don’t know anybody. I get ripped off easily. I don’t have time or mindshare to invest in this.
Doug Brien: Yeah, I think there’s some simple math you can do. Most of us have jobs. What’s your salary? How many hours a week do your work? What’s your hourly rate in terms of what you make in your job? And then, what is the property management fee and how many hours a week, in a month, does that job take? And, if you’re making more money in your professional job—in most cases, people are making significantly more if you live in the Bay Area, especially, than what the average property management time per hour is—then I think you’ve got to look at that and say, “am I better off hiring experts who, that’s all they do, and spending those hours on my profession, or enjoying my boat with my family?”
Alex Osenenko: Those of you who are watching, go to Mynd.co, M-Y-N-D dot CO. Doug and I will be doing a number of interviews specifically on Vallejo real estate. We covered why you may need a property manager—you may not. But now, at least you have an idea.
Check us out at Mynd.co. We’ll come back with another topic. Until then, thanks a lot for watching and Doug, thank you for your time.
Doug Brien: Thanks, Alex.
From maintenance emergencies to legal disputes, self-managing a property is as demanding as it is rewarding. While many investors in the Bay Area ultimately choose to do so, self-managing a property is not the right decision for all investors. Having an understanding of how to manage a property is key to managing one successfully. Likewise, it is vital to have an established team of trade professionals to address any emergencies that may arise. But, overall, the choice between self-managing a property and hiring a management professional is a personal one—determined by an investor’s individual circumstances above any other factor.