A New Perspective: Tennis anyone? | Real Estate Insights

Deciding to rent vs. buy a home is like choosing which sport to play — and will drive the kind of expertise, coaching and equipment you need.

The personal stories of one Realtor’s battles and triumphs in the highly-competitive Bay Area Real Estate Market, seeking to illuminate and humanize the very real ups-and-downs of homeownership.

“My friends have a house in town they’re considering renting,” the email said. “Can you help them?”

Yes . . . and no . . .

While a C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors®) license certainly allows Realtors® to act as leasing Agents (or to actually sell ANYWHERE in the state of California), and while Sarah and I have certainly stepped into the leasing role when pressed to do so, the truth is, there are better options for homeowners and landlords than working with a residential Real Estate Agent when it comes to renting their homes.

Really? (Really.)

Expertise matters

Having just spent last week at the famed Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, Spain with my husband and his tennis buddies (a bucket-list item for them to be sure), it’s clear from the moment you enter this esteemed center boasting 23 hard courts, 20 clay courts, 12 paddle courts and two squash courts, that if it’s your tennis game you wish to improve, you go to where the world’s best instructors are. You don’t go to a Nike soccer camp hoping to improve your top spin or return of serve.

Which is why – when asked about rental properties – Sarah and I almost always suggest rental specialists who:

A) Better understand landlord/tenant laws (they OFTEN favor the tenant).
B) Work exclusively with renters (not Buyers or Sellers).
C) Will carefully vet incoming tenants for their creditworthiness.
D) Will establish and collect security deposits.
E) Will catalog and record the current conditions of the property.
F) Will find solutions to unexpected issues or tenant complaints.
G) Will suggest improvements more in line with renting (not selling).
H) May issue late notices as needed, and provide guidance with respect to other legal claims.

(Neither Leasing Agents nor Real Estate Agents should act as attorneys. Evictions and lost rent will likely require legal representation.)

However, just as there are distinctions between Real Estate Brokerages, so too are there distinctions between rental companies. Some work exclusively with showing and placing tenants (at which point their contract ends), while others will also manage the property for a monthly fee or percentage. Management companies work exceedingly well for landlords who live out of town OR for those who prefer as little interaction with their renters as possible.


​”My faucet is leaking”
“The internet is too weak.”
“The neighbor’s dog is barking . . .”

And so it goes; an endless parade of legitimate and not-so-legitimate complaints, including my personal favorite, “the lightbulb is out.”

You can’t change a lightbulb? (Evidently not.)

Selling real estate and managing rental properties take different skills

If you’re NOT willing to problem solve for dust bunnies, you are a great candidate for a rental management company to run the daily mechanics – especially if you don’t live in the vicinity of the rental unit. No one needs an alarming midnight call about X, Y, or Z, when you’re one hundred miles away and can’t do much about it.

By way of example, Cliff and I have a small cabin at Fallen Leaf Lake, and were it not for the management company in South Lake Tahoe we’d never be able to successfully rent and maintain this property, especially as the area is prone to blackouts. This year, in addition to the loss of power, the leasing team has dealt with visitors who have been locked out late at night, pilot lights that have blown out, an unprecedented snowpack, and bears who have ransacked cars. (Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!)

As it turns out, despite my two decades of selling high-end, luxury real estate in the East Bay, renting out a vacation property is an entirely different game. (I tried to manage it for the first season and frankly, made a mess of it.)

Given that the world of leasing is fraught with more potential landmines than selling a home (who’d a thunk?), it behooves landlords to work with SPECIALISTS who have intimate knowledge of the laws surrounding these transactions and can anticipate the “what ifs” that come along with renting property – ANY property.

“What if their dog stains my carpets?”(It might.)
“What if they sublease?
“What if there is extensive damage?”
“What if they don’t pay the rent?
“What if I can’t get them out?” (A distinct possibility.)

With the understanding that most renters will NOT treat your home/condo/apt./vacation rental with as much care as you would like, there WILL be ongoing maintenance required, which is par for the course, but also highly inconvenient. While rentals can be an excellent source of passive income, they can also be a BIG, FAT headache.

So can I help your friends with their rental property?

I can certainly help them clarify their journey. I can help talk them through what they might reasonably expect, AND I can help them decide if they’d like to rent or sell. But at the end of the day, should they decide to rent (not everyone is cut out for it), we will very likely refer them out to someone else who has walked the rental path hundreds, if not thousands of times.

While we appreciate you reaching out and asking, your friends will be much better served in the capable hands of a specialist, and isn’t that what you really want for them? (Yes, it is.)

BTW – this is true for out-of-town or out-of-state sales as well. We’ll happily connect you to an Agent in San Francisco, Tahoe, LaMorinda, OR Sun Valley, Scottsdale, or NYC. That’s the value of aligning with a national brand such as COMPASS. In short, they’ve got game.

Tennis anyone?

How can we help you?

Julie Gardner & Sarah Abel | Compass Realty

Not just Realtors, but consultants in all things house and home, we’re here to educate, explore, examine and refer . . . In short, you may count on us to take care of your home as if it were our own and anyone who knows us, knows we take pretty darn good care of our homes.

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