The last time I posted to the blog was September 1, 2009.  If you are still subscribed to this blog (and for that, I have to say, “wow!”), you may be wondering, “What the heck has Steve Belt been doing for the last 9 months?”  Well, the answer is working on the creation of Echo Coffee in South Scottsdale.

I’ve written a bit about why I created Echo Coffee on my personal blog at My Side Door, so there’s no need to repeat it here.  What I did want to mention is what plans I have for this blog and real estate, as it relates to me personally.

First, I should say that I am no longer a practicing REALTOR.  I still maintain my real estate license, and I still have plenty of my own real estate to manage, but I’m not helping others buy, sell, or lease property.  If you need help with that, I will be happy to refer you to an agent that can best help you.

Given that I’m at Echo Coffee 15 hours a day, it puts me in no position to help you with such an important investment.  That is, unless you think I can work it in between making someone’s cappuccino and the next person’s latte.  Better yet, I’ll make you a cappuccino and your agent a latte, before you head out on that next tour to view homes.

For this site, I’ve partnered with Nick Bastian of RailLife to continue to provide Phoenix MLS Search capabilities.  If you need an agent, you can’t do much better than to work with Nick Bastian.

Nick, Justin McHood, and myself are still exploring what we should do with this blog.  I’m sure something will come to us, but for now, expect updates to continue to be few and far between.

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closed-for-business That’s right.  After managing other people’s property for nearly 4 years on a full time basis, I have decided to close the doors, metaphorically speaking.

I actually made this decision a few months ago, but I’ve waited to put it on the blog until all of my landlords and tenants have had a chance to hear the news for themselves, make the decisions that are best for each of them individually, and wrap up all of the formalities associated with those decisions (primarily the transfer of repair funds and security deposits).

Why did I close my business?  For a reason I never expected: my personal health.  You see, with the current economic climate (and I absolutely hate that phrase, by the way), I was having approximately one unexpected vacancy every month.  Whether it was an eviction; a tenant calling and saying they cannot pay; a tenant moving out in the middle of the night, never to be heard from since; or even the strangest of cases: a tenant that was kidnapped from his home and is presumed dead; at least one property a month was experiencing an unexpected vacancy.

Although I don’t actually think these vacancies were my fault, at the moment of crisis I would consider it such, and worse, would consider myself a failure.  If you look at my tenant placement stats, they are kind of sick.  90% of the time, I personally find the tenant through my marketing efforts.  So if I wasn’t to blame (since I found this bad apple tenant), who was?  Certainly not the landlord.  But we all need someone to blame, so the easy answer was me.

Unfortunately, I typically found I was nearly unable to face or discuss the situation with the landlord, often going a week or more without ever answering my phone directly.  This is a horrible behavior in the face of crisis, which would further make it look like I was to blame.  In reality, though, I would plummet into a state of depression that I never, ever expected of myself…and it was happening every month.  Worse, the problem was affecting the way I managed every single property, not just the one in crisis.

Nine or Ten months of this scenario, and a very, very agonizing day on the sofa with my dear wife Jan, and I came to the realization that I had to stop the problem, before it stopped me.  And thus, I’ve closed it down.

I am now back to managing just my own properties.  And while I’m certainly not immune from the occasional bad apple tenant, I don’t fret talking to myself about the need to clean up, repair, re-market, or in other words, pay for the acquisition of the next tenant.  I mention my own properties, because I’ve already had a few people say, “Hey!  I thought you were closing this down, but I see one of your ads on craigslist!”  Rest assured I’m not playing favorites, but rather, just trying to fill my vacancies like any other landlord.

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Will Interest Rates Rise?

August 28, 2009

Are interest rates going to go up or down? I don’t know, but the Fed is about to stop buying mortgage backed bonds and no one really knows what that means.

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Obama 125% Refinance Now Available: Kind Of

August 21, 2009

One of the great things about the way the mortgage markets work in the last couple of years is that reality always trails the announcement by anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. For example, back in July, it was announced that the Obama Refinance was expanded to allow people who […]

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Do You Have A Backup Plan?

August 7, 2009

Another crazy week in the mortgage business. This week, one of the nations largest wholesale mortgage lenders – Taylor, Bean & Whitaker was effectively shut down by the government and as a result thousands of borrowers are now scrambling to try to find financing. There is quite a bit of finger pointing as to whether […]

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Justin McHood Has Officially Lost His Mind

July 31, 2009

I was having a conversation with one of my peers yesterday and I think I was called out on the carpet when he declared: “Justin McHood has officially went crazy. No way, did I just hear that come out of your mouth!” What did I say that made everyone think I was crazy? I declared […]

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New Mortgage Disclosures Mean Longer Turn Times

July 24, 2009

If you are currently shopping for a house, be aware that it is probably about to take a little longer to get your loan done. The reason it is going to take a little longer is because there is a new law going into effect on July 30th that changes the disclosure requirements and the […]

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