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If you’re investing in a Santa Cruz property for the first time, there are a few things you need to know. The California market is unique, and we’re here to help you get started.

Real Estate Requires Financial Resources

You need money. There’s no gentle way to explain this; you simply cannot invest in this area’s real estate market without financial resources. If you don’t have any money right now, you don’t need to read the rest of this blog. Just put it aside and come back when you do have some money. Spending everything you have on one investment property is risky. In California, the down payment alone will need to be at least 20 percent of the purchase price. Once you have your down payment in order, you’ll have to find a mortgage broker who can help you get a home loan. That process will also require that your financial house is in order. If you don’t have the financial resources available to invest in a property, think about different investment options or come back to you real estate plans once you’ve saved some money.

Get to Know the Market

Understanding the rental market and how it works is also critical to successful investing. If you’re comfortable in the sales market, that’s great. But, the rental market is a little different. A home’s sales price is much different than a home’s rental price. You’ll need tools and resources to determine a home’s rental value. It’s never a good idea to buy a property without knowing what it will rent for. Check out what properties similar to yours are renting for in the same neighborhood. This will help you establish a rental range, which you can use to determine whether a particular investment is a good idea. Once you know how much rent you’re likely to bring in, you can calculate your expenses and get an idea of what your cash flow will look like.

Look at Potential ROI

The return on your investment – or ROI – requires you to think in the long term. Many investors worry about buying property in California because there’s a high probability that you’ll have a bit of negative cash flow. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you have the opportunity to own property in Silicon Valley for only $500 or $1,000 per month, won’t you take it? Of course you would. And with your tenants paying for a good part of your mortgage and other expenses, you’re still earning a healthy ROI. There’s no need to worry about a small negative in your cash flow. You’ll continue to earn equity in your property while your tenant is paying a portion of your mortgage debt.

You have many tax advantages to plan for as well. Many tax deductions are available, including deductions for property taxes, mortgage interest, and insurance payments. You can write off your fees for property management and other professional services. You can also write off maintenance and repairs. All these benefits will offset any negative cash flow and provide an impressive ROI. Consult with your CPA for more details on tax benefits.

Location Matters with Investment Property

Location always matters when it comes to real estate, and when you’re a novice investor, knowing the market you’re buying in is critical. When you are preparing to purchase a property, pick one in an area that you already know well. If you’re already familiar with the school district, the commuter routes, and the dining and recreation hotspots, you’ll have an idea about the tenant pool, the demographics, and the community itself. Eventually, you might want to invest in other markets, but your first investment should be close to home.

Accumulate Financial Reserves

We already expressed the importance of having money when you’re buying an investment property. Not only do you need money to buy it, you need money to maintain it. Be sure you have enough money set aside to pay for unexpected repairs, major improvements, and all of the unexpected disasters that you don’t see coming. Without a cash reserve, you could struggle to make the necessary repairs. That’s not going to work in California, which is a tenant-friendly state. Habitability laws require you to make repairs right away when something breaks.

California Landlord Tenant Laws

Rental laws in California are some of the strictest in the U.S. It’s a great place to be a tenant, and a challenging place to be a landlord. You’ll need to comply with a long list of local, state, and federal rules and laws, and those are regulations that change all the time. Most owners who violate a law do it unintentionally. It’s easy to make a costly mistake.

California Landlord Tenant LawsThe legal liability that comes with investment properties is a great reason to hire a professional property manager. We know the laws, and we keep up with their changes. We can remove a lot of the liability and risk and keep your property protected.

If you have any additional questions about what you need to know as an investor, please contact us at Portola Property Management. We’d be happy to tell you more.

We are proud to share with you our very successful Pet Program!

I understand and agree that by applying for this property I will create a: (1) NO PET PROFILE, or (2) PET/ ANIMAL PROFILE by visiting: https://portolarentals.petscreening.com and pay the application processing fee. Application fee: $20 per pet/animal; tenants with no pets or service animals are free of charge. Your rental application with Portola Property Management will not be processed until this profile is complete. If approved as a tenant, a fee of $25/pet is due monthly with the rent payment.

Portola Property Management: Pet Program; a picture of a black and white catKathleen started this program to create more pet friendly housing for tenants, while also soothing any worries property owners may have about accepting pets.

We meet all pets before they move in. Upon approval, an additional $250 per pet is added to the tenant’s security deposit. Twice a year, a representative from Portola Property Management will complete a visual walkthrough of the home. The tenant fee for this is $50 per walkthrough at a total of $100 per year. It is VERY rare that we find any issues in the home, but if found, tenants must correct it at that time. When great tenants find great pet friendly housing, they tend to stay long term.

We take pride in offering about 50% pet friendly housing!

You can meet some of our furry tenants below.

Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Cat Name: Charlie TigerName: Charlie Tiger
Interests: Daily Siesta, performs head butt tricks, and enjoys the finer things in life such as Pate.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: BlueName: Blue
Interests:play tug of war. Blue is social and happiest being the center of attention



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: GueroName: Guero




Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: Peanut Butter and JellyName: Peanut Butter and Jelly
Interests: loves to cuddle up in a warm spot.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: Roman

Name: Roman
Interests: Running on the beach.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Cat Name: MollieName: Mollie
Interests: Going to the groomers and napping in the sun.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Cat Name: MittensName: Mittens
Interests: hunting for critters, playing with my favorite toys, purring on my owner’s lap and looking pretty.


Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: MaxName: Max
Interests: Modeling, helping Santa when called upon, love kids of all ages



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: MaggieName: Maggie
Interests: Where’s the bird…I love being active, running, retrieving, swimming, jumping you name it. I am most happy outside but enjoy curling up on my bed and relaxing at the end of a long day.


Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: KaleName: Kale
Interests: Cuddle, Sleep, Run in the forest, and Sun Bathe on the beach.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dogs Name: Jack & JillName: Jack & Jill
Interests: Chasing birds, retrieving balls and getting massages.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Cat Name: Hot Sauce

Name: Hot Sauce
Interests: Hunting socks.



Portola Property Management: Pet Program: Dog Name: DaphneName: Daphne
Interests: Going for long walks on the beach, sleeping by the fire, listening to music.



Rental Criteria
Basic Criteria
Selection of a resident is based on income, credit, and tenant history or ownership. Each applicant must qualify individually based on references and credit, while the income requirement can be met as a household. Negative findings on one or more of the three areas can cause denial of an application. Denial of one application results in the denial of all applications.
  • Monthly household gross income must equal three (3) times the stated monthly rent. PPM must be able to verify all income sources and reserves the right to disqualify applicants for failure to prove income and/or supply adequate documentation.
  • You are required to supply reasonable, reliable, and legal documentation on all income in either of the following forms:
    Last two paycheck stubs.

    • Recent tax returns or W2.
    • Award letters (i.e. alimony, SSI, child support, new employment offer letter)
    • Self-employed individuals must be verified through State, or Federal tax returns.
  • PPM obtains a credit report for all applicants, and does not accept copies of credit reports from applicants, no exceptions. Good credit is required. Negative credit reports can be grounds for denial of an application.
  • Outstanding bad debts being reported on credit report of more than $100.00 but less than $1,000.00 may be accepted with proper explanation and proof.
  • After a bankruptcy has been discharged, applicant must show six (6) months of positive established credit.
Rental History or Property Ownership
PPM requires a minimum of two (2) years of rental history and/or proof of homeownership. Negative references can be grounds for denial of an application.
All references must be third party and verifiable.
PPM will make a reasonable attempt to contact references provided. PPM reserves the right to decline tenancy based on inability to contact reference provided.
Responsibility of Applicant
It is the responsibility of the applicant to inquire from PPM about any information on the application that they do not understand.
If notified, it is the responsibility of the applicant to accept the offer to rent by submitting a holding deposit.
Automatic Denials
1) Giving false information is automatic grounds for denial.
2) Three (3) or more 3-Day Notices within a 12 month period will result in denial.
3) Two (2) or more NSF checks within a 12 month period will result in denial.
4) Rental history reflecting any unpaid past due rent will result in denial.
5) Rental history reflecting any property damage or disturbance will result in denial.
6) Any collection filed by a property management company or landlord will result in denial.
7) Any applicant with unlawful detainer action or eviction within the past three (3) years will be denied.
8) If unable to verify the income necessary to pay rent, applicant will be denied.
9) Excessive collections will result in denial.
10) Outstanding debt to property management or landlord will result in denial.
11) Any applicant with a bankruptcy not shown as discharged will be denied until shown otherwise.

I understand and agree that by applying for this property I will create a: (1) NO PET PROFILE, or (2) PET/ ANIMAL PROFILE by visiting: https://portolarentals.petscreening.com and pay the application processing fee. Application fee: $20 per pet/animal; tenants with no pets or service animals are free of charge. Your rental application with Portola Property Management will not be processed until this profile is complete. If approved as a tenant, a fee of $25/pet is due monthly with the rent payment.

Fred Thompson - Maintenance ProfessionalFred Thompson

Maintenance Professional

Duties: Support Portola PM Owners/Tenants with their maintenance requests and provide excellent customer service.

“I am the “MacGyver” of Property Maintenance, providing creative solutions to all your unique property needs.”

Experience: Over 10 yrs experience in residential remodeling, repair, and property management in Santa Cruz County.

After Hours: Scuba diving, RV camping, and enjoying the local music scene with my wife & friends.

Steve Thompson - Construction SpecialistSteve Thompson

Construction Specialist

Duties: Construction and maintenance

Experience: Over 30 years of general building construction and maintenance.

After Hours: Spending time with Heidi, enjoying life’s adventures along the way. Surfing, Biking, Scuba Diving, Camping, and traveling.

Sue Gerwin - Client Care / Office ManagerSue Gerwin

Client Care / Office Manager

Duties: Provide Excellent Customer Service and Office Support

Experience: 11 years in customer service, admin support positions, 10 years as business owner and operations manager, 10 years experience in commerical and residential leasing.

After Hours: Cooking & Camping.

Michael Catalano - President

Michael Catalano



Duties: Strategic & Leadership Development, Operations Management.

Goal: To provide excellent customer service, to manage properties efficiently, to maximize the investors return, to provide tenants with quality housing.
Mike grew up in real estate and property management and learned at the age of 10 how to take a maintenance call. Mike has over 20 years’ professional experience in all facets of real estate and property management.

He is currently the CEO of NextGen Property Ventures, Inc., with offices in Roseville, CA & Real Estate Connections in Los Gatos, both real estate investment and property management firms. Mike sits on the boards of Fourandhalf, an internet marketing company specializing in property management and of HappyCo, a mobile application for property inspections. Mike is a sought after industry speaker on the topics of property management firm acquisitions, real estate investments, and real estate marketing best practices. He is a member of NAR (National Association of Realtors) and CAR (California Association of Realtors), and NAPRM (National Association of Residential Property Managers).

After Hours: Mike grew up in Saratoga and has family ties to Santa Cruz. Mike is married with 2 children and in his “free time”, he enjoys golf, coaching his kids’ sports teams, and relaxing with his family.

CA DRE: #01824514

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Call or text us at (831) 824-5199 during business hours.

We guarantee that a team member will be on the other end to answer any questions you may have.

Get A Free Rental Analysis

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How to Rent One of Our Properties!

Read the property listing
• We want you to know what is and is not included with the property!
Review our Criteria and a SAMPLE LEASE.
• We want you to self-evaluate whether it’s worth your time to apply and to be comfortable with the future lease you could be signing.
Drive by the property – Do not disturb any current residents
• We want you to like the neighborhood you might be moving to!
Call (831) 475-1282 or email rentals@portolarentals.com for a showing for ALL intended residents who are 18 and over.
• We cannot accept applications until everyone 18 and up in your party has attended a showing of the property.
Once you have completed these steps, you can provide all of the following online for each resident who is 18 and up by clicking on “Apply Now” on the property listing
• An Application
• Proof of income
• Copy of Photo ID
• Payment for the non-refundable $45 application fee
• [If you are unable to submit an application online, please notify our office at time of setting up showing]
Please allow 24-48 hours for the processing of an application (additional time may be needed during the busy season or if references do not return calls quickly).
We may receive multiple applications for this property. We do not necessarily select the first application submitted. Selection of a resident is based upon better credit history, rental references, Proof of Income, Number and type of pets if allowed, and Move-in date.
Next Steps:
1. You will hear from us whether your application is approved or denied.
2. If your application was in good standing, but another application was stronger, you can apply your application towards any of our other properties for 30 days for free (you will still need to attend a showing).
3. If you are offered to rent a property, you will need to turn in a Holding Deposit within 48 hours to secure it in the form of a cashier’s check or money order. This is always in the amount of a half month’s rent made out to PPM and is fully applied towards your move in funds.
4. By your established move in date, you will have started any necessary utilities, submitted proof of renter’s insurance, signed your lease, turned in your remaining move in funds, and can pick up keys! At this point we will have already completed a report of the property and you will have the opportunity to add any comments you would like; we do not do a walkthrough of the property with you.

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