Category Archives: Newsletter

Price VS Service or Vendor VS Partner

In an ever changing market it is imperative to know where all of your money is going.  Property Managers have tasks that pull them in every which way. In the back of their head there is always this little voice reminding them the “Fiduciary responsibility to the owner”.  If you are not a Property Manager you may not understand what that means, but it is one of the main reason Property Managers exist.  They act on behalf of the owners to make smart decisions; to keep tenants happy, keep costs down and revenues high.   At the end of the day what is the highest importance to the owner?  That answer may be different for each property and each owner.

If I was a betting man (which sometimes I am), at the top of the list would be keeping tenants happy and making sure the owner has the highest return they can get on their investment.  Property Managers use their best intuition and lines of communication open to keep all parties happy, while also retaining their positions as the Property Manager.  Only the most talented people can handle this type of work load as it is not just based on numbers and spreadsheets.

What does any of this have to do with price, service, vendors and partners?  If you are unable to keep costs down you may not be retained as the manager for long.  If you do not have the correct level of service whether it is landscaping, trash removal, plumbing, HVAC, etc. your days may also be numbered.  We are currently living in a society where people want the best prices AND the best service.  Well this is just not reality.  In the retail market we have Home Depot, Best Buy, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and these are places that we can purchase items at a reduced cost, but they are not known for their excellent service.  So what do you choose cost or service?   Usually these rock bottom prices are being promoted by very large companies promise to “deliver”.  Sometimes they do, often times they don’t.  When promises are broken, but you are given an outstanding price what do you do?  Couple phrases may come to mind like “Buyer Beware” or “you get what you pay for”.  These coined phrases do not mean anything when you are in a pinch.

This is why it is important to employ people you trust to take care of you where you do not have the means or skills to correct the situation alone.  So what is the difference between a Vendor and a Partner?  Vendor is a company or person that is giving you a good cost of services, but does not know you.  Vendors will bid from a spreadsheet rather than coming onto your property to assess the job they will be doing.  Vendors will not know you as the point of contact and may answer the phone from another state or even another country.   Partners know you personally and take the time to understand your needs prior to bidding out any service.  They are prompt to answer your call themselves and help out when an emergency arises.  Partners can be depended on, because life never is what you expect it to be.  Everyone has had their car repaired at one point or another to where things did not go exactly as planned.  Either the bid was way more than they quoted originally or the repair was not completely fixed.  I am not a “car guy”, but my best friend is one.  He is my partner when it comes to all things automotive.  I trust him to make good decisions for me and my family.  I could take my vehicle to 50 places closer and perhaps more expensive than he.  Taking my car to him gives me piece of mind because I know that I don’t need to worry about him taking advantage of me.  I am probably not alone.  Property Managers need more Partners and fewer Vendors, as they have far too many moving pieces to handle throughout the day, week, month, and year.  Partners make you look good; Vendors don’t really care how you look, only that they are paid timely.

At Arizona Waste and Recycling we consider ourselves Partners to all of our clients.  We may never be able to lower our prices the way the other national brands do, but we will never ship our jobs over-seas or out of your service area. We service each and every property as if it were our own.  Often times the waste and recycling “vendor” is on site more than anyone else.  Wouldn’t an extra pair of eyes and ears be nice if the property manager is unable to be on site all the time?  How quickly can fires be put out when you have capable Partners onsite looking after your interests?  Low costs sometimes equal poor service and rarely ever equals great service.  Has poor service/great cost ever affected your business by actually costing you more in the long run?  If so you may need to identify who are your Partners and who are your Vendors.  The reality is that Partners may end up costing you a little more, but may also save you a lot down the line.  Next time you need work done on your property; take the time to identify the Partners in your life that can help.  Partners go the extra mile to make you look good.  Don’t get wooed by the attractive price because anyone can send out a great price.  So what will it be “Service or Price”, “Partner or Vendor”.  At the end of the day locking arms with a Partner seems like the best way to go.

James Buchanan

Sales Manager

AZ Waste and Recycling

…THE AMAZON EFFECT AFFECTS YOU

No matter what type of commercial real estate you have, as part of our service, Ashland Group Commercial Property Management division will bring ideas for you. Click here if you would like us to consult with you

One example of our experience is how we are adjusting to the Amazon Effect. The Amazon Effect affects your property management. This, in turn, affects your property value, no matter if it’s retail, office or industrial. Lean on Ashland. We can add our experience to yours.

It is predicted that retail sales will grow very slowly this Holiday season, but, online sales will again jump by nearly a third! Another startling data point is that Sears & 99 Cents Only (http://www.businessinsider.com/retailers-at-high-risk-of-going-bankrupt-2016-10 ) are cited in the group that is facing bankruptcy! Often, Ashland Group Commercial Property Management has said, “we manage property From an Owner’s Perspective”.

Here is one example of how we are adjusting for the Amazon Effect. We own the store space as part of the Fry’s Shopping center at the northeast corner of I-19 and Irvington Rd. It is the Placita Del Rio Shopping Center.

Several years ago we revised our marketing focus to attract non-inventory tenants to our retail center. We have now completed the transformation. Instead of having inventory stores, we have dentist offices, an insurance office, a finance company retailer, a mobile phone store, a barber shop, a hair salon, a manicure-pedicure store, and, our latest, an experience oriented tenant,  Funland Adventure,

funland

plus, other non-inventory uses. Why did we do this? We decided not to fight a trend but to make the trend our friend. For this, or any of your commercial property’s needs, let us know how we can help you.

 

Thermal Cork Shield (Or, How to Save 40% on heating and cooling)

corkpaint     Thermal Cork Shield!!!  What would you say if someone told you that you could save money on your electric bill by painting your house or business?  Would you do it if there was a 10 year warranty and no maintenance?

Thermal Cork Shield is an exterior thermal barrier product that goes on the outside of buildings and homes much like paint.  The big difference is that it will SAVE you money on your heating and cooling utility expenses!  No traditional exterior paint can make that claim.

Here are a few excerpts from The National Post article dated July 9, 2016 – Mike Holmes: Keep yourself cool by keeping your house cool, starting from the outside – – By Mike Holmes, Special to National Post  –  ‘Holmes Makes It Right¨ on HGTV

If you are serious about saving energy and keeping your house cool in the summer (and warm in the winter), think about getting a high quality cork spray product installed on the exterior of your home to help insulate it from the outside. It can be applied over any surface wood, brick, stucco, steel, aluminum siding, vinyl siding, shingles, etc.

Insulating the exterior of the house stops the heat and cold from coming inside, as well as from escaping outside, so your home maintains a steady temperature all year round.  I used it on my house and my energy bills have been cut by almost 40 per cent.

The bonus is that high quality cork spray is a natural fire-retardant (it has a Class B fire rating); it’s durable, environmentally friendly, it gives us a thermal break (so heat doesn’t penetrate through), it’s a breathable product, it works in any climate, and it’s water and mold resistant.  It’s also flexible, so you won’t get any cracks on the exterior of your home or commercial building.

The spray cork can match any color and you can choose different finishes from sandy to smoother finish. Plus, it looks great and will last a lifetime.

thcc  Here’s a photo of Leah Peterson, President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce showing how excited and pleased they are as they save over 50% on their utility bills.

For more information call –  Trudi Wieduwilt,  Energy Savings and Sustainability,  520-241-6765

Tax Appeal Deadline – must read

What If I Missed My Property Tax Appeal Deadline?
by Stephen J. Lenihan

Each year the County Assessor must, prior to March 1, mail to each property owner a Notice of Valuation for their real property.  The property owner then has sixty days in which to appeal the valuation of his real property to the County Assessor.  In Pima County this year, the deadline to file an administrative appeal was typically April 26, 2016 for the 2017 tax roll.  This is a simple tried and true system, but what if you missed the appeal deadline?  There is a remedy.  In Arizona, a property owner has the option of appealing directly to the Arizona tax court on or before December 15, 2016.While the administrative appeal to the Assessor is a simpler process, there are advantages to filing in the tax court.  The most obvious advantage is that whereas the administrative appeal deadline for the 2017 tax roll was April 26, 2016, the deadline for an appeal in the tax court is December 15, 2016.

Another important advantage is due to the nature of the appeals process.  In the case of administrative appeal, a property owner is usually allowed a brief meeting with an appraiser in the County Assessor’s office.  Upon appeal from the County Assessor to the State Board of Equalization, the taxpayer is typically granted a hearing rarely lasting more than one-half hour.  In the case of an appeal to the tax court, the process allows for discovery, just like any other litigation, and it allows for substantially more time in which to develop your case and to negotiate with the County.  While many cases may settle after a single meeting with the County representatives, some cases require multiple meetings, site visits, and exchange of information over a period of months.

Discovery in a tax court setting may be an advantage to a property owner in that the property owner is entitled to obtain certain information from the County.  However, the County is also able to require the property owner to provide certain information to the County.  For this reason, if the purchase price of the property, the mortgage amount or the property insurance coverage exceeds the full cash value of the property as determined by the Assessor, it may not be wise to file an appeal in the tax court.  Not only is it more difficult to negotiate or win a reduction in the full cash value when the purchase price, mortgage amount or insurance coverage exceeds the full cash value, the County also has the right to request an increase in the valuation based upon information they obtain during discovery.

While the option of filing a case in the tax court is certainly a good one, it should not be pursued without careful consideration of the matters listed above as well as other matters.

Stephen J. Lenihan is the president of The Lenihan Law Firm, P.C.  Mr. Lenihan graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration in 1972 and a Juris Doctorate in 1976.  Prior to entering the practice of law, Mr. Lenihan was a certified public accountant in the tax department of Haskins and Sells (now Deloitte) and tax director of the Tucson office of Laventhol and Horwath. Subsequently, he became general counsel for a regional homebuilding company and president of its Tucson division.  In the practice of law, Mr. Lenihan has represented clients in the Arizona Tax Court for more than 20 years.  Mr. Lenihan represents homebuilders, developers and others in real estate and commercial matters, including property tax and condemnation issues.  He is an AV-Preeminent rated lawyer by Martindale and Hubbell, as determined by input from his peers

TAKING A BREAK THIS SUMMER?  BEFORE YOU LEAVE ON VACATION . . .

Summer is a great time to take a vacation and enjoy some rest and relaxation away from home.  Here are some tips for things you should do before you leave to save on your utilities and prevent any accidental damage to your home.

  • Turn off the water heater at the breaker panel if electric, or shut off the valve if its gas
  • If you will be away for more than a couple of weeks, consider emptying your fridge, defrosting and unplugging it
  • Adjust your thermostat to a higher setting
  • Close windows and blinds to keep heat out during the summer and in during the winter
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances and electronics to save energy and protect them from possible damage from power surges
  • Put several lamps on timers to run only during the evening hours – this gives the illusion of someone being home without wasting energy during the day
  • Turn the water valves off to washing machines, dishwashers, ice machines and hot water heaters
  • Make sure your gutters are clean and free of debris

Apps

There’s an app for that!

With the ever changing world of technology it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the latest and greatest products available to make our lives easier. We found some home automation apps available for almost any smart phone that we think could save you some stress – and money! Let us know if you use any of these and if so, how well they work.

~~Katie

We recently read an article naming eleven home ‘smart apps.’ Really? Should any house be THAT smart? Of course the idea of smart homes isn’t new. In the 1960’s robot assistants were being featured as the next rage. Those of us ‘of a certain age’ will remember when automation for lighting, heating and air conditioning were being touted for ‘homes of the future.’ The future is now, whether we like it or not.

Wireless home automation is available at our fingertips. Let’s say you’re on your way to the gym to work out when you realize you forgot to turn down the heat, turn off the lights, or set the security alarm.

Worry no more! With wireless home automation you can set the alarm, control the climate and turn on or off the lights with a swipe or push of a button on your phone.

There are even apps that can ‘talk to each other.’ For example, if someone leaves a door ajar on a July day in Tucson, the AC adjusts so you don’t waste energy.

Home security is an issue worthy of conversation. Have you ever come home to find ‘someone’ had forgotten to set the alarm? It is quite disturbing. Being able to check the alarm remotely would curb a lot of anxiety. And might help the ‘someone’ to double check it before leaving the house next time.

There are even apps that will send you a text or email message when there is a serious event going on in your home such as a water leak. But our favorite is the one that allows you to shut down consoles if your child is playing video games instead of doing homework.

…………………app

Smart homes, alas, are only as smart as your smart phone. The apps are available from many sources. We found this article helpful: http://www.hgtv.com/remodel/mechanical-systems/11-smart-apps-for-your-home

How ‘smart’ is your home and phone? We’d love to hear how you use smart apps!
Email: ashlandgroupllc@gmail.com.

Link

The Tax Man Cometh

If you own property in Pima County, watch your mailboxes as the
2017 NOTICES OF VALUE will be arriving any day now !! The second biggest regular expense for property owners, after the mortgage, is property taxes. Whether you have residential property or commercial property (or both), you need to pay close attention to the value that the County Assessor assigns to your property. In most cases, this value can be appealed in order to lower your annual taxes. In fact, in some cases, a successful appeal will result in a decrease in taxes for a two year period. Also, sometimes prior years can be appealed.

So, what do you do when the notice(s) arrive? There is a sixty day window to submit an appeal to the Pima County Assessor’s office (look at the NOTICE for the expiration date). While you can certainly file an appeal yourself, we have found that this job is best left to a professional. They are generally much more knowledgeable about the process, the best methodology for illustrating an appropriate valuation, as well as having up to date knowledge of tax legislation that may affect the way our properties are valued.

At Ashland we submit the Notices of Value for ALL of our properties, and, for those we manage for others, to our tax consultant for review. There are a number of very good tax appeal consultants in the Tucson area. After they have reviewed the Notices and gathered certain information about the property, they will advise you as to whether you should file an appeal. At that point they take most of the work out of it for you. They will fill out and submit all the forms prior to the due date. If the Assessor requests a meeting, they will attend it on your behalf and argue your case. If the Assessor denies the appeal, the taxpayer has the right to administratively appeal the Assessor’s decision to the Board of Tax Appeals. If this appeal is unsuccessful, the taxpayer may file a lawsuit with the Arizona Tax Court.

In an upcoming issue we will share the process for appealing the Assessor’s decision through the court system. In the meantime, consider contacting a reputable firm for their assistance. If you are already Ashland’s property management client, we do it on your behalf. If there is any downside, we consult with you before we proceed.

Best of all, fees are generally based on a percentage of tax savings, so very often there are no out of pocket expenses to file an appeal. Be sure to consult each firm for their fee structures and policies. Also, consult with them on any potential downside of appealing.

 

Termites Attack!

newsletter cartoon 10.2.15
Don’t Let Termites Attack Your Investment!

There is a common saying among exterminators “There are two types of properties: those that have termites and those that will have termites.” In fact, termites cause more damage to homes and commercial buildings each year than storms and fire combined. If you are considering purchasing a home or commercial property, be sure you obtain an inspection/infestation report from a licensed pest control company. Also, if you are building a new home or commercial property a pre-construction termite treatment is said to be far more effective than post treatment. Katie

According to an article written by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, termites are considered the number one urban pest in Arizona. The most common type of termite in the southern Arizona region are subterranean termites. They live underground and tunnel up through the slab or exterior of your property. They create mud tubes to shelter themselves from dry soil conditions.

These mud tubes are a tell-tale sign that termites are existent at your property. There are other signs of termites that are more difficult to detect. This is something better left to trained professionals. Experienced eyes can locate signs in the specific areas in and around your structure where a termite attack is likely to occur. Therefore, rather than trying to ‘do-it-yourself’ we recommend that you have your properties inspected by a reputable pest control company once a year.

For more information about how to reduce your home’s risk of termite infestation, you can visit this YouTube video by Northwest Exterminating. Location: 4854 N. Shamrock Place, Tucson, AZ 85705. Northwest Exterminating is a proud member of BOMA of Tucson.

Water – A Precious Resource

A Precious Resource
sharks

Most people understand that water is one of the world’s most precious resources. Here in Arizona, and in other drought susceptible regions it is especially important for each and every one of us to understand and practice water stewardship.
Katie

There are many ways in which we can all conserve water, and many can be done at no cost or low cost. Also, the City offers a number of incentives, rebates and educational programs to assist in making homes and businesses more water efficient. Some of those ways include:
1 – Install water aerators on all your faucets and shower heads
2 – Replace regular toilets with high efficiency toilets. NOTE: The City of Tucson offers rebates for both residential and business customers who replace their toilets with high efficiency models.
3 – When it’s time to purchase a new washing machine look for a high efficiency unit. NOTE: The City of Tucson is currently offering a $200.00 rebate on the purchase of a new HE washing machine.
Click here https://www.tucsonaz.gov/water/rebate for a list of qualifying products and details on how to obtain your rebate.

Transition your landscaping over to plants that require minimal or no water, known as xeriscape.
Check out options for rainwater harvesting. NOTE: An incentive rebate program is available to single-family residential and small commercial City of Tucson water customers who participate. Click here for more information on Rainwater Harvesting.

Pima County Smartscape Program is a partnership between The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service and Tucson Water, and offers free classes focused on landscape water conservation. Classes are open to homeowners and landscaping professionals. Check out the class schedule and other helpful information.

Did you know the City of Tucson offers a rebate if you receive an unusually high water bill as the result of a leak? They even a provide a downloadable guide for finding and repairing leaks. Once you have identified and repaired the problem you may contact the City of Tucson water department to determine if you are eligible for a courtesy adjustment on your bill. This is available to both residential and commercial customers.

Check out the Courtesy Adjustment Policy (see Sec. 27-52) for information about the offered adjustments. For even more assistance, visit the City of Tucson’s WaterSmart webpage and The Homeowner’s Guide to Using Water Wisely.
We hope that you will take every opportunity to become a water steward!

FYI – We contracted with RestoredResources.org, Peter Caiazzo, Owner, to help us replace toilets in our commercial property, and highly recommend them.
**(Cartoon courtesy of Planet Forward on Pinterest)

Trees and Plants

 

 Are Your Trees and Plants Ready For The Intense Summer and Monsoon Season?

If you have been in Southern Arizona for even one Monsoon Season, you’re likely not to forget it. And “weather” (Ok, corny!) you are on the love it or hate it side of the opinion table, it’s rapidly approaching.  The intense heat, heavy rains and strong winds that are on their way mean more than frizzy hair and timed dashes to the car. So, what else do you need to think about besides packing an umbrella? Your plants of course!

I’m guessing this is not a subject that keeps you up at night, but as owners or managers you know just how much of a nuisance (and cost) a downed tree in a parking lot can cause.  I could try to capture your attention with a long drawn out landscape management plan, but instead I decided to keep it to highlighting the three “W’s” that are likely to cause you the most strife and what you can do to try to be proactive about them.

1)  Water. By now you know your water bill has crept up and you’re looking for ways to cut costs. It may seem like a feasible choice to turn down your irrigation schedule with all that free water that’s been coming down from Heaven and all, but should you? This is somewhat deceiving at first. Yes, you are getting help from Mother Nature, but a lot of factors come into play when deciding if that water is actually available to the plants to use.  Soil type, plant location, and length of the rain storm all greatly affect just how much water your plants are getting. For instance, if you have a more clay based soil, your plants are on a slope and have no shade, the rainwater is likely just skimming the surface and passing by.  If the plant is in a retention area and the soil is loamier, the water will have more of a chance to soak in and hit the root zone of the plant, allowing you to get away with little supplemental irrigation.  Your landscape company should be managing your irrigation timer and taking into account the factors involved with just how much water your plants will need.

2)  Wind. The “don’t bother to open your umbrella because it will just turn into a weapon resembling a medieval sword” kind of wind.  It’s hardest on the trees, and if they haven’t been properly pruned to thin the canopies you have a lot to worry about. Dense canopies act like sails or umbrellas in high winds and cause stress and pressure on limbs, trunks, and root systems.  Fallen branches and tons of debris are half the battle. With the ground soaked (and loosened) it can easily uproot and come down completely, causing serious damage and hazard.  Make sure you are proactive about this by calling your landscape company to get any additional trimming done to allow the wind to more easily pass through the canopies and less debris to fall. This alone will decrease the likelihood of having fallen trees.

The suspense has built and now we have reached the pinnacle of all “W’s”…

3)  Weeds. Yes, those ugly pesky things that keep the phones ringing at landscape maintenance companies across the State this time of year.  The best advice I can give on this one is that I hope you sprung for the extra cost of a pre-emergent this year.  Regularly applying pre-emergent herbicide will cut down the amount of weeds you see drastically and the number of times you need to call the landscape crew to come out and put the intruders in their place.

If you’re still with me, hopefully you learned something and feel better prepared to go to work with bad hair, knowing your landscape (and budget) will thank you for it.

Air Conditioning Leaks

Thanks to Hamstra Heating & Cooling for the article this month.

What can cause air conditioning water leaks?

Clogged Drain. A clogged drain hole/line causes the drain pan to overflow. During the warmer months of the year when the air conditioning unit is working hard there is a lot of moisture being pulled out of the air into the facility. As this water drips down the evaporator coil and flows into the drain pan, there is algae and other debris that form and run through the drain line. Eventually, if not maintained, this algae and debris will clog the drain line, forcing the water to overflow the pan.

Damaged Pump. Leaking water could be a sign that you have a faulty or damaged pump. If the pump is broken it may not be properly pumping the excess water from the drain pan, causing it to overflow.

Improper Air Flow. It is possible that the air flow over the indoor evaporator coil is restricted due to either a dirty coil or a dirty air filter. In either case this will cause the evaporator coil to ice up and leak water over the edge of the condensate drain pan. Proper maintenance of your heating & cooling system will help prevent water leaks. However, our desert climate, including dust and critters, can cause drain clogs between maintenance visits. A condensate drain safety shut-off device can drastically prevent water damage and is required per code IRC M1411.3.1.

Preventative Actions. Some systems at the time of installation did not include these. Make sure the following are in good working order:

  • 5 amp high-capacity sensor designed for secondary drains. The sensor will shut down the unit if the drain is plugged. The high capacity sensor eliminates false shut offs caused by trapped condensation.
  • As an added precaution, make sure your HVAC system has a 2-in-1 secondary drain + secondary pan sensor. All of our installed sensors include a moisture detector LED light that alerts you to problems.
Hamstra Heating & Cooling, Inc.
Office:   (520) 629 -9833