Monday, May 13, 2013

An Interview With Scott Safadi About Property Management

Veteran property manager Scott Safadi is owner of Cal Bay Property Manager, a premier property firm in the Bay Area. Safadi’s company is centered in the Silicon Valley area.

Q: How do you currently see the real estate market in the Silicon Valley?

Scott Safadi: Well…the Silicon Valley is the home to innovation, and I try to stay ahead of the curve myself. Too many property management companies fall in line with each other, and I make every effort to avoid that.

Q: What is it that’s different in how your company does business?

Scott Safadi: We keep close tabs on all our properties and their condition, and that helps us retain our clients and tenants. For instance, tenants can go to our cloud-based property management database to submit work or repair requests, or even to pay rent. We think it’s a pretty forward-thinking idea.

Q: Property taxes are high in Silicon Valley. How do you deal with that?

Scott Safadi: It’s a fact and a cost of doing business, and it may mean that we have to raise rent on our properties every 12 months or so. It helps retain tenants, though, when we can make sure that they are getting considerably better rents than new applicants. I really believe that good tenants in a complex are essential for a thriving business.

Q: What was the career path that brought you into property management?

Scott Safadi: Well, I have a background in construction, which gives me a pretty good command of cost analysis and building maintenance. That knowledge can then be leveraged into regular remodels and updates for properties, without having to spend an exorbitant amount. It is much easier to rent a freshened-up apartment, and that is an essential factor in keeping our units from sitting vacant for long periods.

As well his lengthy experience in the construction industry, Scott Safadi also has worked as a real estate financial analyst, another skill that has served him well in property management. Based in the San Francisco area for the course of his business career, these experiences have helped him gain a deep knowledge of the housing needs of the Bay Area.

Scott Safadi Discusses the Fair Housing Act and Tenant Screening

Scott Safadi is the President of CBPM (Cal Bay Property Management). Scott Safadi has been doing property management since 2005, with Silicon Valley apartment communities the primary focus of his business management expertise. Scott Safadi holds a CCRM (California Certified Resident Manager) designation.

All property owners and managers are well advised to thoroughly educate themselves with regard to fair housing laws, according to Scott Safadi. In simple terms, the foundation of these laws is that all applicants and tenants must be treated equally, with objectivity, and without bias. But, notes Scott Safadi, the legal jargon is more complex than the basic premise and it is advisable that professionals in the housing industry be aware of the specifics of the law.

Because of possible perceived inconsistencies that may occasionally arise especially when an application is declined, Scott Safadi thinks that the screening of applicants is best handled by a third party agency. When using a third party agency, Scott Safadi explains, a set of screening criteria and policies are pre-established by the landlord or management company for properties in their portfolio. Any tenant applying for any unit within the portfolio is assessed based on the same pre-established rules. Scott Safadi believes that not only is this the most impartial system, but it is also a system that is most compatible with fair housing laws.

Scott Safadi points out that some landlords think they can take a stack of applications for a given apartment, look through them and then choose whom they believe to be the best applicant for their property. Scott Safadi cautions that fair housing laws require applicants to be screened in the order in which they apply. Landlords and management companies are legally required to follow a first-come first-served policy when filling vacancies. Scott Safadi explains that if the first application is denied, the landlord or management company must then move to the next one received in chronological order and so on. If an application is accepted, applicants can be required to put down a deposit within 24 hours of receiving the acceptance. However, Scott Safadi warns this must be the policy for all applicants to avoid any perception of bias.

The Fair Housing Act and its amendments is a law that prevents discrimination based on religion, color, race, or national origin. It covers denial of housing, terms of sale or rental, housing advertisements, interfering with a person's enjoyment of housing rights, and retaliating against organizations for assisting individuals with the exercise of fair housing rights. Its amendments added protection against sex discrimination and discrimination against families with children and the disabled. The law allows some exceptions; however, it is advisable for landlords and management companies to address possible exemptions on an individual basis with legal experts. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development enforces The Fair Housing Act.

Scott Safadi emphasizes the advantage of using a third party screening agency with regard to fair housing regulations. Using a third party agency takes the decision making out of the landlord’s hands, leaving no possibility for partiality on the part of a management company or landlord. Scott Safadi also stresses the importance of having a consistent policy for screening tenants like the third party agency Cal Bay Property Management uses. With the third party screening process, the decision is out of CBPM's control. If an applicant is denied, they are denied. If an applicant or tenant believes there has been an error in the selection process, he or she contacts the third party business directly. If an error is found, Scott Safadi and CBMP are able to act upon the recommendation of the screening company; however, CBMP does not have the power to override a recommendation by the company. Scott Safadi believes that this is one of the best ways for a landlord to avoid a fair housing lawsuit.

Scott Safadi recommends the website On-Site.com. It has a wealth of information on property management solutions, web-based tools, forms, and more for apartment management businesses.

Scott Safadi lives with his family in Saratoga, California. Learn more about Scott Safadi at his website aboutscottsafadi.com.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Scott Safadi Talks about Managing Leisure Time

As a property management professional, Scott Safadi is all too familiar with the need to balance leisure time with a busy schedule during the week. Today, we talk to Scott Safadi about making the most of weekend time.

Q: I know you have to be really busy with your job. Does it ever slow down or stop?

Scott Safadi: Sometimes it seems like it never does. I routinely put in 50 or 60 hours during the week, and I have to figure out a way to make my weekends sacrosanct, for my own sanity. I recently had a breakthrough on that front, by the way.

Q: Really? What did you figure out?

Scott Safadi: Like a lot of people, I am a little compulsive about my smartphone and checking emails. Even on my off weekends, it was hard to resist that red circle on the mail app on my phone, showing me 50 or even 100 emails on a Saturday or Sunday.

Q: I guess the thinking was to not put them all off until Monday?

Scott Safadi: Exactly. So the next thing I know, I’m going through them on the weekend, and invariably there are going to be a couple that are going to be worrisome or unpleasant enough to get under my skin for the rest of the weekend.

Q: Understandable. So what was your solution?

Scott Safadi: Simple. I moved the app to the last page on my phone. That way, during the week I just have to swipe that page but on weekends I don’t see that red circle staring at me and telling me how many emails I am going to have to wade through on Monday morning.

Q: That’s some pretty good thinking.

Scott Safadi: It’s really important to get the downtime on weekends, for everyone. You want to be able to come back to work on Monday truly rested and recharged, and if you’re stressed about work all weekend, that’s difficult.

Scott Safadi is president of Cal Bay Property Management, and has been in the property management business since 2005. In addition, Scott Safadi is the holder of a CCRM (California Certified Resident Manager) certification.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Scott Safadi Praises Dartmouth for Its Academic Excellence

Q: Why is Dartmouth considered a premier school?

Scott Safadi: As a member of the Ivy League, Dartmouth sets a remarkable standard of academic excellence. Dartmouth is nationally recognized as a respected institution of higher learning, with a diverse range of majors and areas of study. U.S. News & World Report has named Dartmouth the best undergraduate teaching institution in the United States for the last four years.

As an educational experience, Dartmouth excels in a number of different ways. This experience starts with a staff of experienced professors who are genuinely invested in student interests. The focus on helping students to find their true passions and to deliver their best performances is unmatched in the United States. Dartmouth is a home of both research and scholarship, allowing students and professors alike to receive a well-rounded education.

Q: What particular fields of study are most popular at Dartmouth?

Scott Safadi: I would say that most notably, Dartmouth is an encouraging place for entrepreneurs who are intent on starting a new business. Students are encouraged to embrace a “big picture” philosophy and see beyond just those four years of undergraduate study. The alumni of Dartmouth are responsible for countless technological advancements.

The Dartmouth Alumni Association of Silicon Valley is helpful to the career growth of Dartmouth graduates, by providing a number of educational and networking opportunities. For those who are pursuing careers in the Silicon Valley and throughout the country, it provides an educational and social environment where individuals can keep in touch and exchange ideas.

Q: What added features does Dartmouth possess?

Scott Safadi: Dartmouth's location along the Connecticut River is a huge draw for many potential students. The area is particularly suitable for those who are interested in the outdoors, including activities such as mountain biking and backpacking. The nearby White Mountains offer beautiful views and a wealth of recreational activities, which are a welcome reprieve from the vigorous coursework involved with studying at Dartmouth.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Scott Safadi Contemplates Home Styles in Saratoga

According to Scott Safadi, many pockets of Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View feature a series of homes that are basically indistinguishable from each other. When these neighborhoods were built out in the early 1950’s, the uniformity came from necessity, as the country had recently emerged from WWII and there was a need for a lot of housing in a hurry.

Today, each new or remodeled home seems to be produced with virtually the exact same style: stucco, Mediterranean with a tile roof, and a tall entry. Whether these homes are remodeled or built new, they possess very little of the creative flair of which skilled architects are capable. Compared with the distinctive architecture seen in such areas as Palo Alto and Willow Glen, these homes lack the visual appeal that makes the community so attractive for prospective buyers. Although many businesses provide stock plans on the Internet or by mail, Scott Safadi questions the need for homeowners to be just like everyone else.

When property owners decided to build their own homes or remodel their current ones, an opportunity arises to match the character of the property with the owner’s personality. As Scott Safadi says, each house has its own identity just like the individuals who call it home. Home details like the siding, doors and outdoor trims combine to form a unique impression.

The Internet is a major resource for ideas. House plan software allows users to tinker with hundreds of designs. Online architectural guides can inform the reader about history and details on different home styles. Scott Safadi stresses the fact that trends change often; the best advice is to seek consultation with an experienced designer who keeps tabs on the current market. At the same time, the home should be a comfortable refuge for its residents, not simply an ultra-trendy spot that follows fads that will soon fade away. In choosing among contemporary and traditional elements, the individual is able to draw from different eras and styling techniques.

Building a home is one the most important decisions that people make, so future homeowners should learn about the numerous possibilities available in order to make their house a home.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Scott Safadi Linkedin Profile

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