Pinto Capital Investments

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Episode 7: Why You Need a Great Property Manager on Your Side with Trina Piceno

Trina serves as the Chief of Operations with WR Property Management, a full-service property management company servicing the Northern California East Bay and surrounding areas. As the COO, WR Property Management has become the go-to team in repositioning hard to manage areas and has done so while earning the Silver and Gold awards recognized by the Best of Brentwood. Serving within Asset Management, Trina specializes in recognizing undervalued assets and working through the diligence, logistics and realistic budgeting necessary to maximize the assets cash flow and reposition feasibility.

Trina has been working in the Property Management field for over 9 years and has been working with investment owners at high volume for 7 of those with WR Property Management. Trina and her team have successfully repositioned 109 Units over the past 2 years and currently controls 82 doors as GP ownership.


- Started in the administrative side of property management field. Serving the asset management arena that specializes in recognizing undervalued assets and working through the due diligence logistics and realistic budgeting necessary to maximize assets cash flow and reposition visibility.

– Successfully repositioned 109 units over the past few years and currently controlled two units as a GP ownership.

- Supply and demand is a thing.

– Get legal counsel, watch your back if you’re if you’re invested in California.


Snapshot questions

  1. What is the number one thing you need as a new investor to get started? You need to educate yourself on everything you don’t still know about.
  2. What is one nugget of investing knowledge you want to give us? Cash flow is what people should be aiming for.
  3. What is your dream?I’d love to head up an organization that’s established to bridge the logistical and operational gaps from homelessness and very low income.


Welcome to another episode of the Lessons and Real Estate Show, I’m your host, Anthony Pinto, and we are absolutely thrilled to have you here today. Today, we have a very special guest and one of my favorite people on real estate. I learn something new every time I speak with her, and I’m sure you will as well. So a little background about Trina.


Trina serves as the chief of operations with our property management, a full service property management company serving the Northern California East Bay and the surrounding areas as a single property management has become the go to team and repositioning hard to manage areas as done so well. Earning the Silver and gold awards recognized by the best of Brentwood, serving within the asset management arena that specializes in recognizing undervalued assets and working through the due diligence, logistics and realistic budgeting necessary to maximize the assets, cash flow and reposition. Visibility has also been working in the property management field for over nine years, has been working with investment owners at high volume for seven of those years that she and her team have successfully repositioned one hundred nine units over the past two years and currently control eighty two units as a ownership. Trina, welcome to the show. Hi. Thank you. Thank you for having me. No problem. No problem. Yeah. It’s good to hear from you. I can talk to you in a while. So I’ve been I’m really excited to kind of see what’s going on with you and hear more about your background. So. Yes. So. So you live in the California area and you’ve been there your whole your whole life. Right. Or most of your life.


I actually moved around like an insane amount of my life. I was born in California from a young age, moved out to Utah, stayed there till I was about 11, and then hopped around California and northern southern over to New Mexico for a little bit. Arizona, Louisiana. I’ve lived a lot of places, but back to California.


Awesome. Awesome. OK, and then so. So you’ve been in for nine years doing property management. Have you been doing real estate your whole career, or is property management something that you kind of shifted into another career? How did that start?


Yeah, so I actually started out in the administrative side of property management. If you’re delving into, like leasing and showing properties, doing market comps, everything like that, you’re actually required to be licensed. So I’ve been licensed for quite a few years now. I think I’m going on six, six or seven years now.


I can’t remember. But yeah, no, I’m a licensed agent as well in the state of California, so that helps.


Interesting, OK, so and then you moved up from there into owning your own property management company, right? Or did you just did you just take your company year in and kind of just take over for him from the bottom up?


Yeah, actually. So I’ve been working with Leslie Olson. He’s my partner at W.R Property Management here. I’ve been working with him for we just celebrated our anniversary in October, I believe. Eight years. Thank you. He actually had made a home for me here and I approached burnout. This is a high burnout industry.


I approached burnout about five years ago. And he was like, you know what, we have a good thing going here. I’d love to make you a partner. Let’s talk about what that looks like. So slowly but surely we did the things necessary to really collaborate together on that partnership. And I was just happy to have a home here with him and understand that we get each other. We work well together, so keep that ball rolling. So, yeah, now we own the property management company together and we actually own our holding company together as well. When you find a good fit, you keep going with it.


So yeah, why not fix it if it’s not broken. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So interesting. Yeah. Burnout. I can definitely see that. And we had a we’ve been through a number of different property management companies talking with different people and kind of picking and choosing and kind of getting the property management companies. And, you know, it seems like their margins are very, very slim. And depending on the type of clients that they pick up, I could definitely see how they would get burnt out, which is a tenant issues they have or dealing with the investors and landlords and maintenance issues and all the things that being a property manager, the great things about being a property manager.


Exactly. I mean, we have open restraining orders against former tenants. We’ve had assault charges need to be filed. We just it’s one of those they I’ve been followed home before is just one of those things that you don’t really understand how much some property managers have a risk on top of them just for a job. And it’s unless you’re in it for something other than the paycheck, it’s really not a survivable field.


Yeah, I mean, that totally makes sense. So. So to that point then, so what made you want to stick with that is that I that that is a scary thought. If I imagine my wife doing the property management that even with the properties that we have, like being called home, just having to have your personal cell phone number and that just that’s a scary thought to me.


So the other side of that for you, like, what is the why that keeps you going outside?


The money would probably be sure for sure. So actually, my background is quite eclectic. I come from a background of everything from collections to customer service retention call center based on sales. I come from a background of work. I was a preschool teacher, Girl Scout or Girl Scout leader, site coordinator for Boys and Girls Club. And then ultimately, what really helped me in this job is I used to work in different county jails. So when you are in atmospheres where you have to rely on your instincts a little bit more, not so much what someone’s telling you, but what someone showing you about their your risk factor, you really can cut through a lot of the bull so people can come and yell at me all they want. But I can read if I can take them or not, and if I’m legitimately needing to be fearful for my safety. So pushing that aside and be able to get through that, you can still overcome challenges. You could just remain factual, remain professional, be consistent. I actually my why in this industry, I love helping people. I’m not thousand percent of people person. But when you get that one story that comes through where you’ve essentially brought someone out of homelessness and through your management techniques and remaining fair and safe and being able to provide a safe house for somebody in their family, I mean, we get Christmas cards from some of our tenants. We get invited over for things, obviously, that we don’t take them up on that. But, you know, it’s just nice to see that personal connection. I legitimately love seeing the happiness that it brings people knowing that they have a safe place to live, that they’re not being discriminated against. I have so many stories of people who could not find somewhere to live because of maybe their five large six foot tall gentleman and someone thinks they’re just going to destroy their house for housing. It’s simple. Do you qualify? Yes or no? Awesome. And people just like being treated fairly. So being a black and white individual, I love being able to do that. So keeps.


Going, yeah, for sure. So that’s a really interesting thought. I feel like a lot of property management companies, they’re very strict in their qualifications for a good reason. There’s definitely professional litigators out there that are that are just trying to find a quick place so they can live for a few months and then they know the eviction process so well that they can extend and the six months without having to pay and then just kind of bounce around from place to place. And I’ve had I’ve had tenants like that. And it really kind of gives you a sour taste in your mouth. So, I mean, it goes to show that you’re doing something right and earning the silver and gold award for the best of you, doing something right there. So how do you how do you make that difference? How do you as a property management company and your your interactions with these tenants kind of make yourself stand out between I’m sure there’s hundreds of other property management companies in the area, like how do you make yourself stand out and consistently provide that that personalized touch with your tenants? And I’m sure with the landlords as well, for sure.


Well, our specific location is a fishbowl. So if something happens, word travels quick on both sides of the spectrum. I mean, and it’s not always positive. But if, again, you just remain consistent, nobody’s showing up looking for a best friend. They’re looking for a safe and great place to live where they’re not going to be discriminated against and just keep that mantra going, because that’s literally what we’re here to provide. I’m not here to hand deliver fresh made cookies to everybody. While that might be amazing, it’s not what I’m here to do. I do what I’m supposed to be doing. And people genuinely respect that. Again, being a fishbowl, the resident space, if you are not performing on certain things or you’re at least not being personable, it’s going to come out and we work with some of the best people. I mean, we’ve let our vendors. It’s actually difficult to find amazing vendors. But the ones that we do, I jump through hoops for my vendors to make sure that they’re the ones that get to keep servicing my residents because the time and time again show up professionally, have great communication, treat my customers with respect, and then just making sure that whatever is being stated is being done is actually being done. We actually get a lot of people who want to puff up their chest and create a confrontational circumstance out of nothing. And genuinely, I really don’t bat an eyelash at that stuff. And I think people see that like a lot. I guess I’m going to have to talk to you like a human and then see where we go from there. And it’s really not that bad. We have resolutions for everything, pretty much. So just staying on that that course is probably what I’d recommend for people to do.


Yeah, and I’m sure it kind of comes down to your personality and your experience as well. You’re obviously a very easy person to talk to and you have a ton of knowledge and experience. And it just I think it really kind of shows the type of person you are and how we’re talking together and how you’re treating your clients for sure. And providing that safe space to you that that property that we’re looking at a couple of weeks ago in Kansas City. And it just blows my mind that is not even a property management company, but the landlord would basically suck all the money out of this property, take as maximum cash flow, and then just leave it pretty much to rot away. And they’re fine with just leaving their tenants like that. And it just it blows my mind. Like how you can how you can how you can consciously be a slumlord like that. And it will all be about the money.


I see I see so many instances right now, too, because the popular the popular operation is acquisition and disposition, which is perfectly acceptable for syndications. It’s a wonderful way to have run a business, make money. But there are some people that I mean, I don’t know them personally. I don’t really align myself with individuals that are just looking to skim the bottom line. But if you if you’re seeing out there where someone didn’t think their whole period was going to be longer than the deferred maintenance, they’re just simply going to leave it for the next guy. And some might see that as legal. Some meat on the bone for a value every possession. But when you’re already maxing out rent and not keeping up with deferred maintenance, that’s the opposite of leaving meat on the bone, that’s maxing out rents and ensuring that your next individual who purchases is going to have a really expensive position. So I just hope that people are keeping their eyes wide open on stuff like that.


Oh, yeah, definitely. And in that kind of takes me to the next point here. And I’ve been saying that a lot over and over again in the markets we’re looking at, Kansas City is people are coming in from out of state and they’re just dumping loads of money into this deal. And sometimes on a scale of one to two or three million dollars more than my offer. And it it blows my mind and thinking about how they could make money off of these deals. And I’m sure you see the same thing and your deals and Richmond and across the country as well. But it blows my mind that people are doing that and a lot of them are from California, or at least that’s what I’m seeing, at least in the Kansas City area. And so what goes into being a California investor that people are willing to throw huge amounts of money at these deals that make absolutely no sense, like what is going through the mind of a California investor that would make them want to do that?


Well, we’ve seen first hand out here in California what it looks like to go from a tan cap to five cap and what stability and cash flow can mean for you. You know, it’s similar to people coming from America and investing in work workforce out of country. Your dollar just goes that much further when what I’m saying specifically because we do host meet ups, we talk with a lot of investors and I have a portfolio of investors that I third party manage for. A lot of them are of the mindset that they do want to be relatively hands on. So the concept of getting out of state is very shaky. But if you can get out of state and see anything that looks like the similar circumstances that you had made money out here in in another market and you have trusted individuals on the ground, absolutely. It’s a copy and paste. If if you are not afraid of your money making practically nothing out here. The margins are so small and then you see that you can make an even better margin in an out of state area that you’re still comfortable with, like the MSA is supportive enough. Then I can see people saying, you know what, I don’t need to make the most money on this. I just don’t want to lose everything that I’ve worked so hard for. They’re looking for stable properties. So when you are not able to get those high returns for somebody, then you see people coming in over purchase price or whatever. It’s because they’ve seen much worse markets that no longer they can’t squeeze money out of anymore. And they’re just stoked to be able to put their money in another market and copy and paste. That’s pretty much what I’ve been able to wrap my my brain around.


Interesting. So on that note, then, what types of returns are you typically seeing in California that you go into a market and where we’re spending getting which is caught like three, four or five percent returns? How does that make sense? So what type of returns are you seeing in California that that is a good return for you?


Honestly, I genuinely don’t invest out here and not even a little bit when we started looking into the OPM model for purchasing it. Just very, very quick.


We made sense that I can’t get anything better than the stock market right now, which is a sad day, so I’m not going to do it. If you can talk to a financial adviser who will co-sign for an industry but can’t co-sign for a return on your money. That’s when you know you need to look for a different market. You want to understand that if you’re using the model for syndicating, you need to be able to do something better than what they’re already able to accomplish through the functional the standard means of investment.


So I think a lot of people who are looking to venture out into stuff like that maybe do want to have a little bit more of a hands on approach. Maybe the confidence in the stock market’s diminishing, which I know a lot of people would support that statement. But regardless, the OPM model needs to make money for the individuals that you’re putting their money into something. Otherwise just don’t do it. I know a lot of people out there are probably working for free right now just to make sure that they’re meeting their investor returns.


Prices are high. If you can’t make it work, the numbers don’t. You can’t make the numbers work. They do or they don’t. So that’s just one thing to keep in mind.


Yeah, and we’ve looked at a ton of deals that we found at the exact same situations like this is the best deal ever if we can get it for this price and you can start to slip and justify a little here, a little there.


And next thing you know, like you’re justifying a six percent return off of that 10 percent return, which is your minimum. Just I think that’s really important to just stick with the numbers and stick with your gut, because if it doesn’t work now, how is it going to work? And five years from now, the prices are even higher on the off. Worst case scenario is the cap rates are now much higher than they were before. And now you can’t even get to the point where you sold it or where you bought it out before, right? Yeah. So that yeah. That’s a really good point to bring up there. So you made me think of something and I to come back to hope for I could think of it so. So as a property manager in California, I mean as a good property management company I should say, I’m sure you know a lot about the legislations and policies of the tenant landlord relations and how everything has kind of changed across the country. I mean, it behooves you I would I would hope that you’d be following that. Right. Or really any pragmatism. So what do you see? What have you seen in California over the past year? I guess your time as a property manager that has made California a area that has been less incentivized for landlords to invest in. For sure.


So as a lot of people are aware, and I know that there’s a lot of other markets that have been experiencing this for a little bit, as well as New York, Seattle, but we’re experiencing rent control that’s going that’s rolling out statewide. I had been fortunate, fortunate enough to gain a majority of my management experience outside of the rent control room and seeing what the free market can actually do for people. And it’s actually I’m not too terrified of the new rent control law. The only thing that we’re seeing is going to be an adjustment for individual investors are the individuals who had looked for the appreciation on their single families.


When you handicap someone’s business plan by saying you’re no longer allowed to give someone a notice to vacate simply because your business plan is the owner of that property is changed, you’re now going to be changing the mindset of everybody who’s been interested in purchasing single family homes with the intention of renting them out for maybe five to six years, capitalize on that appreciation and then exit into something else. Similarly, when you’re drafting your terms for a syndication, people want to know what the exit strategy is. Well, this is just going to reduce and handicap a lot of people’s exit strategies. There’s fortunately some technicalities within the new law, such as if you’re a single family home owner owned by a single individual, not by a corporation or an entity, then you are not bound by that. But again, there’s still more technicalities stating if that’s the case, then you need to notify all of the residents. Otherwise you’re bound by the law regardless. So, again, there’s not enough information out there to get into those technicalities for investors. So I think it’s just a shaky grounds for everybody to even dabble into the field. Also, I’m of the thought that it’s a slippery slope. When certain things come to pass, it’s much easier for more things to come to pass, such as those provisions that California Apartment Owners Association fought for to keep in there. I can see those exiting quickly, but we’re in the day today, in the day to day. We just need to prepare to capitalize on what you can and just understand the law. I’m urging everybody who does invest in the state of California or anywhere with new birth control laws to seek legal counsel.


Don’t just look for the snippet headlines or the bullet points that someone’s going to publish. Make sure that you have your portfolio reviewed by independent counsel and that you understand the technicalities and provisions that applies to you as an individual. That being said, we are needing some more development opportunities. Supply and demand is a thing. I don’t know why everyone’s pretending it’s not. And development is how you alleviate some of that.


So if they could get to work on that, I’d be awesome.


Yes. So listen up, guys. You got to watch your back. If you’re investing in California and been doing it for almost 10 years, and I’m sure you still saw some surprises with the new laws that are coming out. OK, so legal counsel, watch your back if you’re if you’re investing in California. Right. So on rent controlled and those that is rent control specifically in regards to the amount of rent that you can and you can increase the rent each year, or is it also including the eviction, that kind of whole process on the side?


So there were yeah, there were a few layers to this whole passing, and they were in different sections but essentially passed near each other. So the first one is we have a five percent cap on an annual rent increase, and that’s retroactively effective to March of this year or so from March of this year until March of this next year. You can only do a five percent rent increase. There is also, however, a provision that you can increase beyond the five percent up to the rate of inflation. There’s independent parties out there that have done studies to show what that table will look like per county because it does change per area. For example, in my area, I’m only allowed to increase a total of nine point one percent. Don’t forget that point one percent. It actually rolls into real live dollars, though.


So that’s just something to be aware of. But again, as I mentioned, there were additional provisions that were passed beyond that. One of them is limiting landlords ability to restrict Section eight housing authority housing vouchers from the income. Now, the problem with that is HUD requirements, which is federal determination of habitability. And safety is one thing. Section eight Housing Authority requirements for the usefulness of the property beyond habitability is another.


So I’ve seen some people who just straight up wouldn’t be able to afford as an owner to bring their property up to Section eight standards where two thousand percent meets HUD standards. So that’s a thing that is unfortunate.


Perhaps the building is extremely old and they’re not going to re insulate everything. There’s a lot of market flexibility that you have in rental prices based off of certain amenities or deficiencies like that, that in the free market you can consider.


But if they’re making this a requirement, we’re interested to see how some case law is going to come out against that. Another thing that I have a little bit of a bone to pick, and I understand they’re working through it is our local housing authority over here. We’ve actually had to retain legal counsel to make them do their job. Fraud detection has been a joke.


They need to stay on top of making sure that people aren’t there to abuse the system if the landlord gets left holding the pocketbook at the end of it. So it’s just unfortunate.


Wow, yeah, that’s a lot to think about, and it’s definitely sounds like you’ve done your research and at some point I need to look into any more because something similar is happening in Kansas City when legislation actually that’s coming right after Thanksgiving.


So I’m interested to see how it how it’s going to play out. It seems very similar to what’s going on in California. So maybe good, maybe bad. I guess we’ll guess we’ll end up saying. But I think it really goes to show you that you need to you need to continually educate yourself on what’s going on within your market. Right. A lot who’s getting elected when their policies are because it could totally make or break your asset. Right. You may hold that. You may hold a property for five years and expect to get at a year five. But an elected official comes in and changes a law. And now your whole world is kind of rocked, right?


Yeah, well, I mean, entrepreneurs out there are going to find new ways to make business work for them. Maybe they’ll exit the landlord’s space. But again, as I’ve mentioned, my pool, my wife has to do with creating those life changing events, like helping somebody find a place to live and bridging the gap between homelessness and low income, very low income. There’s so many programs out there where nobody even really understands that they exist. And it’s painful to see people end up in an unfortunate circumstance where these programs are out there designed to help them get back on their feet, not maybe support them for life, but get back on their feet. But they’re so riddled with misinformation, not really aligning with other agencies policy that just gets in the way.


So that’s the thing that’s unfortunate for me or other individuals who are interested in seeing housing become an actual thing that everyone can attain versus individuals who are just entrepreneurs looking to have a business model where their money makes them money. I mean, again, you’ll just look elsewhere.


So that means we’re looking at.


Yeah, well, I know we’re running low on time here, so I want to get a snapshot ran if you’re ready for it. Sure. Awesome. OK, first question. What is the number one thing you need as a new investor to get started?


Hands down, you need to be educated if you are an expert in anything, that’s awesome.


Good job, but you need to educate yourself on everything you don’t still know about. There are things out there. So I definitely say you need to educate yourself.


Awesome. Yeah, I think that’s absolutely key, whether in experience or not. Continuous education. OK, next question. What is one nugget of investing knowledge you want to give us?


Well, it just resonates through, like over and over. That cash flow is what people should be aiming for. I’ve had so many conversations with people where it’s like, oh, how many jobs you have, how many dollars you have? And then I, I have this money. But like, where is your cash flow? I know people who own five doors who are cash flowing better than people who own one hundred plus in the GOP side. So I think that just keeping your eye on the prize, which is your look, you’re doing this for an actual end result. Look for that cash flow.


Yeah, yeah. That’s a really good point, especially in some of the markets I’m seeing people buy in Dallas and Florida and Atlanta. It’s just crazy amounts of money going into that. And it’s just like, how are you able to get any amount of cash flow from this right now? So I think that’s really all right. And then last question. What is your dream?


Well, I kind of touched on it, I’d love to head up an organization that’s established to bridge the logistical and operational gaps from homelessness, low income, very low income. I mean, again, there’s so many programs out there designed to help people and they just don’t talk to each other. I mean, I was actually fortunate enough to attend the testimony hearing here in Antioch with the city council. They were meeting with organizations Bay Area wide to see how best to utilize grant money. And it was crazy apparent how easily policy just gets in the way of actual results from a landlord perspective, perspective, listening to all this, I can literally pick apart where the failures are coming from. And I mean, I just love to be involved in bridging those gaps.


That’s it’s a dream of mine. Gotcha, Awesome. Yeah. And I definitely could see you getting there in the future. Your impression and just how you take care of yourself and interact with people and what you care about, I think is really important. I think you definitely get to that point. So awesome. Well, I appreciate you coming on today. I know you got to go. But one last question. Where can people learn more about your content? You.


Honestly, age is Facebook, Facebook’s where the content goes and it’s the easiest way to communicate anymore, I guess.


Fair enough. Fair enough. Plain and simple. Awesome. All right. Well, I appreciate your time today. I learned I definitely learned a ton. Like I said, I always learn something talking with you, Trina. So I appreciate your time and I’ll let you go. But thanks for your time again. And I hope you have an awesome day.


Thanks so much, Anthony.


Anthony Pinto
Anthony Pinto
Anthony Pinto is the founder and CEO of Pinto Capital Investments (PCI), a real estate investment firm focused on acquiring affordable and workforce multifamily properties and apartment buildings through syndications. Since 2019, PCI has gone full cycle on 2 large apartment complexes (+100 units) with an IRR in excess of 85%.