landlord, property management, real estate

Evictions can be dangerous and deadly

By Lindsey Bever January 13 at 8:57 AM

Pennsylvania girl accidentally shot dead by constable

Police say a 12-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was accidentally shot dead by a local constable who came to evict her family from their apartment. (Reuters)
Twelve-year-old Ciara Meyer was standing behind her father when a constable came to the door.

The constable was serving an eviction notice to them Monday morning at their apartment in Penn Township, Pa., when the girl’s father protested and then pointed a rifle at his chest. The officer pulled his gun and squeezed the trigger, police said.

The bullet, police said, went though the man’s arm and hit his daughter. She died at the scene.

The account was provided on Tuesday to ABC affiliate WHTM by Pennsylvania state police in Newport.

“Very kind, sweet kid,” a neighbor told the station. “Here’s a little girl that doesn’t even have a chance to grow up and live her life, and all because of this senseless act. It’s horrible, absolutely heartbreaking.”

Ciara was sick and had stayed home from school Monday when Pennsylvania State Constable Clarke Steele showed up at their apartment, according to WHTM-TV.

Her father, Donald Meyer, 57, shut the door, police told the station. Then, according to police, he opened it again and aimed a .223-caliber rifle at the constable.

“Constable Steele, who was in uniform, quickly removed his .40 caliber duty weapon from its holster and fired a single round striking the suspect in his upper left arm,” police said, according to CNN.

A neighbor heard the shot. It wasn’t until later she found out who had been killed.

“I burst into tears,” she told WHTM-TV. “I can’t understand it; it’s horrible.”

The neighbor, who was not named, said that her daughter was friends with Ciara and that she didn’t know how to tell her that Ciara was gone.

“She’s not going to handle it very well,” she told the station. “It’s horrible. How do you tell a little girl that something like this happened? How do you explain that? I’m an adult, and I don’t understand it.”

Ciara’s death is among at least 22 police shootings that have resulted in fatalities so far this year, according to a Washington Post database.

[Prosecutors will seek murder charges against Georgia officer who shot an unarmed, naked black man]

Meyer was transported to Penn State Hershey Medical Center via helicopter. He has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats and reckless endangerment.
He will be held at Perry County Prison without bail, police told WHTM-TV. A preliminary court hearing is set for Jan. 15.

A source close to the constable told the station that he is “very distraught over the situation.” A Commonwealth Constables Association spokesman told WHTM-TV that he opted to “suspend his work” during the police investigation.

[Former S.C. police officer who fatally shot Walter Scott released from jail]

The Susquenita School District said it is working with counselors to “provide support to students and staff” during this time.

“Procedures are in place across the district to address potential impacts of this incident to our students and staff,” Superintendent Kent Smith said in a statement. “Susquenita administration and additional professional staff (psychologists and guidance counselors) are working in conjunction with counselors from Holy Spirit (Teen Line) to provide support to students and staff as needed.

“Until permission is received from investigating authorities, the district is not at liberty to share any additional details.”

“She was a sweet little girl — so kind, so loving,” neighbor Sarah Harman told “I just hope she didn’t suffer. … A child doesn’t deserve that — they are a precious gift from God.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family pay for Ciara’s funeral arrangements.
Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever

landlord, property management, real estate

Raising Rents

No let-up seen in rent hikes this year


Apartment dwellers had to shell out sharply higher rents in 2015 and are likely to get socked again this year as a labor shortage prevents construction of new complexes from keeping pace with demand, a report out Monday says.

Rents for new residents of apartment complexes in the 100 largest metro areas rose 4.8% last year, the sixth straight year of hikes that exceeded a typical 2.7%, according to MPF Research, a unit of property management software provider RealPage. Over the six-year period, monthly rents have climbed 22.5% to an average $1,244, the largest jump in that timeframe in the 25 years that MPF has tracked the data.

Several forces are stoking demand. Millennials are finally moving out of their parents’ basements, largely as a result of strong job growth. But banks’ stricter, post-recession lending standards are keeping many from qualifying for mortgages.

Price increases for existing apartment residents generally track those of new tenants but can vary. Rents for existing residents rose 5% last year. The research group expects average rents to increase 4.1% this year as occupancy moderates slightly to 95.4%, and it forecasts above-average rent inflation through 2018. Although rents dipped slightly in the fourth quarter because of seasonal factors, apartment occupancy in the period was 95.8%, up from 95.5% a year ago and modestly below the record 96.8% reached in 2000, MPF says.

Sharply increasing rent makes it tougher for tenants to save up for a down payment to buy a house, says Chris Herbert, managing director of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Many young adults are also putting off getting married and having kids, keeping them in apartments longer, says Greg Willett, RealPage’s chief economist. Many, he adds, are gravitating to apartment-rich urban areas to be closer to amenities.

At the same time, many Americans lost homes in the mid-2000s real estate crash and foreclosure crisis, a large portion of whom prefer to rent or are still struggling to snag mortgages.

Thirty-seven percent of U.S. households were renters in 2015, the highest share since the mid-1960s, according to the Harvard center.

Builders are racing to keep up. They completed 232,168 units in the 100 top markets last year, the second highest total in the past 30 years and behind only the 252,348 added in 2014. But the fresh supply was well under the 300,000 apartments planned because of the labor shortage, keeping upward pressure on prices, Willett says.

Some 443,240 units are now under construction, with 311,511 slated to be completed in 2015. Yet that would temper rent increases only slightly, to 4.1%, MPF says.

“It speaks to how strongly demand is at this point,” Willett says.

Further delays due to the labor shortage likely would mean even sharper rent hikes, he says.Nearly three-quarters of multifamily builders are having a hard time finding qualified workers, according to a recent survey by Associated General Contractors.

Another constraint is that the vast majority of the newly- built units are more expensive luxury apartments, Willett says.

Nearly half of all renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing, which means they’re “cost burdened,” according to the Harvard center.

“People are spending more on housing and substantially less on food, healthcare… and the essential needs of life,”Harvard’s Herbert says.

landlord, property management, real estate

Happy New Year!

We all make decisions as landlords and property managers.  Some turn out well. . . and some don’t.  I’ve written about pets before.  I like pets and I rent to people with pets.  Most work out.  Some don’t.   This tenant has only been in her unit for a couple months.  She has a steel door.  Yes, steel.  You can imagine how the interior looks if this is the exterior steel door!


Business, real estate

Life and death of real estate

Real Estate and business in general have lives – they are created, they have their strong years and then years of fading and sometimes death.  Real estate can often be re-born into a new life but it is not easy.  This is one project in my town that I hope soon comes back to life.  It is a very interesting property.


real estate

Ghost Towns and Overdevelopment

China’s White Elephants: Ghost Cities, Lonely Airports, Desolate Factories

OCTOBER 15, 2015 4:44 AM ET
Luliang's planned "Liquor City" has run short of funding. Workers have yet to finish this replica of the Great Wall, which is supposed to surround a massive factory complex producing baijiu, an often expensive Chinese hard liquor.

Luliang’s planned “Liquor City” has run short of funding. Workers have yet to finish this replica of the Great Wall, which is supposed to surround a massive factory complex producing baijiu, an often expensive Chinese hard liquor.

Frank Langfitt/NPR

When you drive the new expressway to the airport in the Chinese city of Luliang, you are as likely to come across a stray dog as another vehicle. When I recently drove it, a farmer was riding in a three-wheel flatbed truck and heading in the wrong direction. But it didn’t matter. There was no oncoming traffic.

That’s because the city’s $160 million airport, which opened in 2014, gets at most five flights a day and as few as three. Officials began building the airport when this coal town was still booming. Since then, though, global commodity prices have plunged as China’s old industrial economy has sputtered. The airport has become a white elephant.

“Because this place is economically backward, the flow of passengers is small,” says Wu Dexi, a local corn and tomato farmer who brought his 78-year-old mother to the empty terminal because she wanted to see an airplane for the first time. “People’s income is too low, they can’t afford this.”

Wu Youfu (at left) and his uncle, Wu Dexi, a farmer, took Youfu’s grandmother to visit Luliang’s airport, a popular attraction for curious local farmers. It was conceived when this coal city was booming. Now the economy is in recession.

Frank Langfitt/NPR

No country has built so many roads, bridges and airports as quickly as China. Many projects, including the nation’s remarkable high-speed rail network, have had big benefits.

But Anne Stevenson-Yang, research director at J Capital Research, an economic research firm in Beijing, says the government has simply built too much. She says lonely airports like the one in Luliang are not uncommon. There’s another one northwest of Beijing in Hebei province, in a place called Zhangbei.

“It’s an impoverished county,” Stevenson-Yang says. “They built the airport in order to increase the revenue of the county. But nobody ever agreed to land there.”

In other words, the airport in Zhangbei has no planes.

Stevenson-Yang says local officials across China have greenlighted lots of infrastructure projects not because they make economic sense, but just to boost GDP. Now, she says, some are having the opposite effect: They’re dragging growth down.

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real estate

Deals at the Plaza?

THE PLAZA’S PLIGHT: Owners of apartments at the storied Central Park Hotel aren’t making the profits they’d hoped for

The Plaza Hotel has long been considered an icon of luxury but the sales aren’t measuring upBRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

The Plaza Hotel has long been considered an icon of luxury but the sales aren’t measuring up

The Plaza Hotel is a New York institution, a pop culture icon, a draw for shutterbug tourists, wealthy ladies who lunch and billionaire international playboys.

And, it turns out, a terrible real estate investment.

Prices for condominiums at the storied — but scandal-scarred — hotel are lagging well behind those in other high-profile buildings on Central Park, according to data collected by listings website CityRealty for the Daily News.

Its slide comes amid a deluge of new uber-luxe units in the neighborhood known as “Billionaires’ Row” and moneyed buyers are voting with their cash, exhibiting a preference for new product, rather than the historic narrative and romance surrounding the Plaza.

“There’s all this brand new stuff with sensational views and the kinds of amenities the Plaza could never dream of,” said luxury broker Reba Miller. “Who is left to buy at the Plaza? That’s the question.”

Apartments are the Plaza are indisputably classic

Apartments are the Plaza are indisputably classic

For Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug Morris, who shelled out a hefty $9,997,168 on his two-bedroom apartment at the hotel in 2007, the investment certainly didn’t go platinum.

When he finally sold the property again last month, he got $10 million for it, a measly $2,832 more than he’d paid eight years ago.

During those same eight years, a two-bedroom unit at 15 Central Park West, the luxe limestone building on the other side of Central Park, had more than doubled its value, from $5.04 million to $10.6 million.

And Morris’ situation was not a one-off.

The residences at the Plaza Hotel have appreciated in value but not at the rate of other buildings

The residences at the Plaza Hotel have appreciated in value but not at the rate of other buildings

A one-bedroom on the 18th floor of the Plaza that sold for $2.18 million in 2008 sold again for just $2.39 million late last year, also a meager increase.

“It’s just timing,” said power broker Charlie Attias of the Corcoran Group, who scored a cushy deal for his client, the buyer of Morris’ unit. “A lot of it is just who’s out there looking for an apartment at the time.”

That’s almost certainly the case with any property but the troubles with the Plaza are more consistent.

Indeed, people who bought one or more units there when following a partial hotel to condo conversion by Elad Properties in 2007 and 2008 paid a median price of $3,636 per square foot, one of the highest price points for any condominium in the city and a premium over what others paid in some similar properties surrounding the park.

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landlord, property management, real estate

Confused Tenants

I could collect many bizarre stories from this job over the years.

My current one is the volume of calls from people who think they rent from us but they don’t.  They argue and accuse but we are not their landlord!  Why haven’t you fixed my repairs?  Why haven’t you returned my security deposit?  I have bedbugs are you going to exterminate?  You’re not one of our tenants – why are you calling me?  Don’t you know who you rent from?

The best one was someone who drove several miles to our office. She parked her car and came inside. She began filling out a check and asked what her balance was.  She never rented from us!  I don’t know why she came to our office or why she thought we were her landlord!  I never figured out who her landlord was or why she came to us.  How can anyone be that confused?????