OR “How I got involved in property management”
My current work involves Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to being an out to pasture IC Layout Design Engineer, and I definitely did not become a property manager by seeking it out – it unceremoniously yanked me in.
I was drawn into property management to save my mom from trouble and by extension, our whole family from trouble back in 2007. Sound melodramatic? It may have been dramatic, but definitely not mellow.
When I graduated from the Masters Program in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the Spring of 2007 from Five Branches Institute (Santa Cruz, CA) the last thing that was on my mind was becoming a property manager or dealing with problem tenants.
The biggest thing on the mind of a TCM graduate is studying to successfully pass the California Licensing exam for Acupuncturist. I had self-sponsored my way through this multi year process and just had about two months to prepare and with hopes of being able to focus on my studying to take that exam in Sacramento. I was ready to embark in my dream of a new life’s work.
I had left my Silicon Valley engineering career on the last day of 2002 and I had completed my Master’s! It was… awesome! It was a mountaintop experience, just having spent 4 years with some of the most kind and amazing people who were the students and teachers. I thought I could just begin a life of a health hermit helping people with their health problems and put the stress of Silicon Valley life behind me.
But NO, fate had another deal waiting for me.
Little did I know that in the previous couple months before my graduation, my mother who managed her own investment properties, was having problems obtaining back rent payments and then received a letter from the tenant complaining about the condition of the property.
Mom, who was about 83 years old at the time, was a kind landlord, though a bit too trusting in her tenants to help take care of her properties, and things were looking a little too legalistic in this one tenant’s written complaint that was carefully worded with some nefarious implications. In other words, it wasn’t just a simple, “Hey, our hot water’s out , could you send a plumber?”
The week after I graduated from Five Branches, I was set to study for my Licensing exam, so I did not go with my mom to visit the property and the tenant. She asked me if I wanted to go, but I wanted to begin studying. I wanted focus, be at one with my studies 😉
To cut to the point, when I heard how the visit went I was bothered. I knew just enough about how things should go to agitate my concern.
Having spent several years working with my parents, helping them with their businesses, full time in the late 1980’s and on my free time in the 1990’s. Spiritually and emotionally, I hardly had time to breath the fresh air, it felt like I was being recalled to military service. (C.K. YEE, we need your ass back out in the front lines, forget your Zen Meditation crap. You better get your seabag loaded on the boat, we’re getting underway) ;(
Considering I was not into property management before this event (though in 1989, I almost went for my real estate license), I am not sure why I was so willing (albeit a bit grudgingly) to take up the burden of dealing with this tenant for my mom but I immediately made clear that I would deal directly with the tenant. I wanted to make sure that my mom (and our family) would take this situation more carefully and so I took the matter into my own hands.
Looking back, I cannot tell you what I saw in myself, to think I was any better qualified to deal with this except, maybe, I would be willing to sit an listen to the tenant like I had practiced so many times with patients…. It’s not that simple though.
Over the next 5 months, I worked with the tenant. Ultimately, they understood they had to move out because we planned to work on the house, which was in need of repairs and that for their safety, they needed to vacate the property.
In the process, I developed a close relationship with a local realtor, who is the most savvy realtor related to East Palo Alto that I’ve ever known, as well as an eviction attorney’s office whose paralegals were God’s gift to mankind, all of who I received valuable advice on landlord-tenant rights and property management.
It was not an easy process. Somehow, I figured out how to navigate the problem which included a few face to-face meetings, many attempts to communicate and even an offer for them to purchase the house, which they chose bail out of the opportunity.
The repair process took over 6 months to finish.
In June 2007, when I graduated from Five Branches, I weighed 150# and by August 2007 , when I took my Acupuncture licensing exam, I weighted 135#. I lost 15 pounds from anxiety and depression at the same time I was studying and managed to pass my Licensing exam. When I learned I passed the exam, it should have been a big-time celebration for me, but it was overshadowed by the ongoing tenant situation.
I received my Acupuncture License in October 2017 and soon began working out of a clinic in nearby Los Altos.
As I recall, there was talk by the Acupuncture Board that we might have to retake the exam due to some alleged cheating by some fringe group, but fortunately, I was saved from that insanity.
Not quite the way I would have planned it but I did it. I DID IT.
Ever since that time, I have been involved in property management. However, due to the hard times of 2008 had to (and was able to) reenter the market as a engineer for several years more (while pursuing Chinese medicine part-time), but that’s how I get started as a property manager.
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