Monday, October 17, 2016

Random Bama

We have an offer on our Grayson Valley home. Currently, we are in the inspection phase, which is when these folks usually walk. Generally they find some minor infraction, like the floors aren't wood. Or it needs a stove (thank you stupid former tenant for taking the stove). Mind you, they are getting an investor price on this house. I am not fixing it up and selling it for retail.

Lest you think I'm being cynical, this this has  been what has happened at the last two times I have tried to sell a home over there. The one I had for sale this summer had an offer and the folks backed out because (at $98k--another investor price) it didn't have granite counter tops.


This past week I got the tax bills for the homes in Birmingham. It is with my greatest pleasure I can send these directly over to Mr. Ex-Partner. Every year he has bitched and moaned about how we ask for money to pay the taxes. I want to say, "I told you so." But frankly, I have been kind of saying this in my head since July.


Yesterday I got a text from a former tenant in Birmingham. It went to me directly, not a group of people. All it said was, "Roll Tide."

Friday, September 30, 2016

When *!@$*&^ Just Doesn't Seem to Cover It

In Other News...

I heard from Polly's history teacher this week. Polly, in a moment of adolescent frustration, said to her teacher, "bless your heart."

It turns out Polly's teacher was born and raised in the South and knew exactly what Polly meant.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

There's A Hole In The Hot Water Heater, Dear Flunky, A Hole

Backstory: Yesterday I got a note from Kirby, my HVAC guy, former property manager and real estate agent (and mind you, one of the few people in Birmingham who is not allergic to work). Anyhoo... he heard from Flunky the Asshat--the maintenance manager of MY CURRENT property management company. Flunky didn't call me. He called Kirby.

It appears there is some sort of water issue at the Waterford home and Flunky, the genius he is, sends an HVAC guy out to see why--and I am not making this up--water is leaking from the hot water heater. To be fair, I am no rocket scientist, but I can pretty much guarantee if I hear water is leaking from the hot water heater the person I would contact (after telling the owner) would be a plumber. But that's just me. Apparently Flunky understands the subtle nuances of property management maintenance about this better than I do. Why else would he send an air conditioner repair person out to fix a hot water heater?

Kirby, bless him, wrote a very nice e-mail to both Flunky and myself saying that he concurs with the tenant: it appears in his professional estimation the issue is with the hot water heater. And because he is a gentleman, he thanked Flunky for the opportunity to help, but in this case this issue is just not in the scope of what he does for a living, so he will have to pass.

And Flunky? What did he do? Flunky followed up with me in a short, yet terse, e-mail and said if there was something I needed, to let him know. Yeppers. There was no, "I will call a plumber immediately and get this fixed," or anything of that nature. Nope. Nothing. The the rest of the correspondence with Flunky went something like this.

At any rate, in the end, I sent I highly-edited e-mail to Flunky asking him (after an insane back and forth) to please call a plumber. Because it appeared Flunky just wasn't going to think of this all by himself.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

When "Bless Your Heart" Just Doesn't Cover It

So the house in Grayson Valley was vacated by now-former tenants with anger issues. The way the law works is the property management, on the day they find out the tenants have moved, are to put a abandonment notice on the door. After that time, the home is mine. I am still waiting for that notice, but it hasn't come. I gave up and decided to roll the dice and see if the tenants will sue me instead.

Last Wednesday, I had the place cleaned out, the lawn mowed and took the house out of management. I wrote Luigi and Flunky, stating now that they have professionally taken care of the abandonment notice, I was pulling the home out of management and was going to sell it. Kirby would be by to pick up the keys. Luigi, who is apparently clueless to what his employees are doing, didn't see the dripping sarcasm. Flunky the Asshat didn't bother to answer.

Over the weekend Kirby showed up at the Grayson Valley home to assess what it would take to sell the place. He told me the locks have now been changed and there is a lock box on the door. Seriously? The property management company couldn't  be bothered for six weeks to check on this house to verify the status of the tenants, but they can--right after I take the house out of management, mind you--hop on over and change the locks.

Yesterday I sent a note to Flunky, reminding him that his company doesn't manage this home anymore, there is no reason to have the keys changed and a lock box, and by the way, what is the combination so Kirby can get in the house?

And what did Flunky do? He wrote me (and cc'd Kirby, my real estate agent) the following e-mail:

Please have your handyman return the lockbox to our office.

Yep, he wrote that. He expects my "handyman" to just jump on this, drive over to my house, take the lock box off and then drive 30 miles to their office and hand over a $20 piece of hardware.

It took every ounce of self control I had not to contact Flunky and tell him what I thought of his solution.

Instead, I wrote Kirby. I said, as my real estate agent, he was bound by fiduciary law to obey all relevant and reasonable requests I give. In this case, he was not, under any circumstances, to touch that lock box. If the property management company wants it, they can go pick it up. I also said a lot of things I thought about Flunky the Asshat, all of which Kirby had heard before and also knew to be true.

Kirby wrote me back with simply, "No worries, your handyman won't touch it either."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


So, the house in Grayson Valley came vacant. The super-classy tenants just took off one day and left half of their crap behind. When the house came vacant, I decided to sell it if I can. Our business is changing and hanging on to homes is not where I see my immediate future. So, Kirby went over. He also took one look at the place, shook his head and quickly backed out the door.

The tenants left a good portion of their worldly belongings--which will hopefully go to good use for someone. But not the turtle in the garage. Sadly, with the Alabama heat and humidity, and being trapped in a cage for six weeks, the poor thing just didn't make it. But sadly, that wasn't the only critters to be found.

According to Baseball Guy, he found a snake skin in the attic. I was preferring to think of it as someone's fishnet stocking, and probably would have gone along thinking that, if Carolsue hadn't found "evidence of snakes" in the garage. There was also "evidence" of other critters too, such as rats.

In addition to the critters, the former tenant (who happens to be an NFL player), bashed in the master bedroom door and the door frame is in splinters. In my experience, when I see door jambs in splinters like this, I think of domestic violence. That could not have been a happy home. But it looks like the worst of the vermin have left.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

And When I Say...

I have hired the "best property management company in Birmingham," you know that's tongue and cheek? Right? Well, partially.

Actually, Luigi's company, when I first started working with them WERE the best property management company I could find. Actually, Kirby's company was the best, but he wisely bailed, because property management sucks. I know this first-hand. I also know what it takes to manage rental homes. I do this for a living. And before I went to work for a property management company, I managed these gazillion homes. I gave them to Kirby.

Over the course of the life of this accidental business, I have hired, and fired, several property management companies. In one case, the Alabama Attorney General got involved. I have also personally interviewed the majority of the other property management companies in Birmingham. All were pleased to see me, as I had a nice, fat book of business to offer them. But when all is said in done, none of them did business the way I did business.

Most of the property management companies I spoke with made it a policy--and they did this without blinking--to just hand the keys to a home to prospective tenants, let them see the place and then trust them to lock everything up, not steal the copper, appliances or vandalize and bring the keys back. If you want to take a moment to read that again, I understand. Take your time. It blows my mind too. Anyway, I didn't hire those companies.

Mario's property management company wasn't too bad, except they were expensive and they expected me to spend lots of time on the computer watching videos of how they operated and required me to get questions answered by logging into a portal that needed some sort of wonky password I could never remember. Usually my questions could not be answered by a computer anyway, so I still had to hunt someone down, explain to them I already looked on their FAQ list (which I probably didn't) and then just say, "While we are on the phone anyway, why not just answer my question." Mario and I also got off to a really bad start. We are ok now, but I haven't forgotten that the first time I gave him direction, he said, "Why don't you go ask your husband what you should do and call me back." I would be willing to bet he hasn't forgotten the earful he got for that one.

When I hired Luigi's company, I specifically asked Luigi many questions. I wanted to make sure we were on the same wavelength and we conducted business the same way.  I was prepared to manage these properties myself with Carolsue's help if I didn't find a company I liked. I had done it before, I could do it again. He successfully passed muster. I gave him everything I had except Ms. Angie's home and Mrs. Sherwood's home.

Cruella Deville 
Since those days, Luigi's company is not what it used to be. I believe they have had growing pains as they have expanded and branched out. That always comes with awkward changes. Luigi gave the day to day tasks to a variety of folks who have come and gone. Ms. Amy seems to be the only constant. And, I am not a fan of her. Additionally, Flunky is also now more involved in the owner relations end of Luigi's business. Frankly, Luigi might have been better off hiring Cruella Deville instead. She is more pleasant.

At this point, I am kind of resigned. Our business is going through its own changes. I am keeping Luigi's company for now. It seems easier than spending the time, energy and effort to train a new property manager that I will probably like even less. Besides, I have a system in place if I need something from Luigi's company. I just e-mail Luigi. He then forwards the message to the appropriate party. He always cc's me, with a gentle reminder that I should go to the right person to get what I need done. I guess what he doesn't realize, is that he is the "right" person.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Answer Is Probably No

It may sound uncharitable, but I immensely dislike Flunky the Asshat. I am doing my best to hide my true feelings when I talk with him, but he doesn't make it easy. For example, the folks in Fultondale have some sort of dishwasher issue.

On July 27, 2016 Flunky sent me an e-mail asking what should he do?

I immediately wrote him back and said, "We can resolve this in a five minute phone call. Please call me when you have a moment." Experience tells me an e-mail exchange will take a week and he won't answer my questions: are the folks up to date on the rent, what exactly is wrong with the dishwasher and how expensive is this fix? As soon as he calls me, he will know my answer.

On Sunday, September 4, 2016 I got my first response from Flunky about this matter. He said: "Sorry that I have not been able to call you about this. Please let me know if you will replace the dishwasher."

As soon as he calls me, he will know my answer.