Real estate, often seen as a sound investment, has been a hotter topic than usual amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to record lows to support the economy. As a result, real estate prices have skyrocketed, though the industry is not without its challenges, especially for landlords.
According to a study commissioned by the Southern California Rental Housing Association (SCRHA), San Diego County landlords have lost close to $2.4 billion in unpaid rent since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. To better understand the real estate market as a whole, we recently spoke to David Malcolm, a San Diego real estate expert with over 40 years of experience. Malcolm earned his real estate broker’s license in 1974, held exclusive rights to Rally’s Hamburger stores in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties from 1989 to 1997, and holds the highest professional commercial real estate designation, CCIM – Certified Commercial Investment Member. He currently serves as the President of Cal West Apartments, a trusted provider of quality rental housing in San Diego and South Riverside counties.
You earned your real estate license at a very young age. Looking back, what first inspired you to pursue this particular industry?
President Nixon decided that you should be considered an adult once you became 18 (versus 21) and be allowed to vote. California followed the President’s lead and lowered most requirements (including a real estate license) to 18 years old. One week after my 18th birthday, I was reading the newspaper and saw an advertisement about an upcoming test to get your real estate license. I decided to take the test in April of 1972 and was fortunate enough to pass. Once I had my license, I decided I should try to put it to good use. I immediately fell in love with real estate and the challenges and opportunities it presents. It seems fate (reading a newspaper) led me to real estate versus me pursuing the real estate industry.
What was your biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment as a real estate professional?
When I was 18, I bought my first home with a loan from my grandfather (who charged me 10% interest). After fixing the house up, I sold it and made $5,500. This was an incredible amount of money to me, and I decided right then that this was the business I wanted as a career. I hope I never lose the excitement I experienced in my first transaction and never become too big or important not to savor making $5,500.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
Education! You will never have a greater opportunity than your preparation will allow you to make of it! Getting my Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation was the most important tool in my toolbox.
How has real estate evolved, for better or worse, in San Diego and the surrounding area?
San Diego is one of the best markets in the United States to invest in due to its geographical location. While many cities keep spreading out (think Phoenix or many cities in Texas), San Diego has to consider the Mexico–United States border to the south, the ocean to the west, Camp Pendleton to the north, and mountains to the east. These factors have helped push valuations up faster than most areas in the United States. However, my fear is California is losing the rule of law and property rights; it’s these two cherished items that have made America great, yet they are more endangered now than at any time in my life.
What risks is the real estate industry facing? How do you, as President of Cal West Apartments, and your team, plan to face those challenges?
Once again, the most significant risk for all firms, not just in San Diego County but all of California, is the erosion of property rights and the rule of law. I have a contract with every tenant that the State of California wants to ignore. The state wants to tell my contracted tenants that they don’t need to pay me, and I can’t evict them for non-payment. Funny that the state didn’t say I can now stop paying the government my property taxes, license fees, water bills, etc. The government wants their money but doesn’t care about me getting my money to pay the government, banker, maintenance, landscaping, management, water, gas and electric, insurance, etc. We have stepped up with the real estate industry to help fight the erosion of these important rights that made America the greatest country on earth.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
I would certainly buy more real estate in states that protect the rule of law and property rights. Is it any wonder that the fastest-growing states are states that protect these rights? Resources flow to where the investor can be assured a fair return on investment. Do you want to invest in an apartment building with rent control or an apartment building that doesn’t have rent control? A sixth grader knows the answer to this question, but most of our elected officials can’t figure this out.
How has your profession of choice helped you make a difference in the world?
My profession has allowed me to make more money than I ever dreamed of having. My wife and I are big believers in giving a portion of our success to those who need a hand up vs. a handout. For over 30 years, we have worked hard to move the homeless back into a productive society with dignity. This means tough love at times (something our elected officials refuse to acknowledge). A drug addict or an alcoholic needs tough love, and you can change their lives in a dignified manner if you are willing to do the right thing.
An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope
Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.
Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House.
Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.
Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!
What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?
Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot. It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.
What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.
What risks is your company facing?
With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.
But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.
In this interview, Raquel Ureña talks about the second season of ‘NY Never Sleeps’
Raquel, It’s a pleasure talking with you again. Much awaited “NY Never Sleeps” will be rolling out its second season pretty soon. How excited are you about this?
I am really excited. Especially because the participants of this second season are super successful women who are truly inspiring. They are great role models.
Would you like to give a sneak peek into the second season for our audience?
These women of Dominican descent all have successful businesses and they all started with nothing, showing us that if you work hard and remain focused, anything is possible. They are all immigrants and today, have many luxuries due to their hard work. Besides seeing the lifestyles of these women, we will also be seeing a lot of fashionable and trendy, and exclusive places in New York.
When will you start filming?
We will start filming in May and have many plans and exclusive events that we will be attending. We will be showing exclusive restaurants and places that people need to see in NY.
On which platforms, will the second season be available? Also, how many episodes will be there in the second season
There are 13 episodes in the second season and it will be airing on Digital 15 and Telemicro Internacional which is the biggest TV platform in the Dominican Republic. Telemicro Internacional is seen in the US through Comcast cable. The show will be airing towards the end of September. We will be filming all summer.
What are your views on the current status of women in entrepreneurship? especially in the Latina community?
New York is a difficult place to live in and very expensive but these women have proven that even with a humble beginning and hard work, it is possible to get ahead in life.
An Interview with Ali LeMille, Career Coach and Founder of The Job Forge
Ali LeMille is the founder of The Job Forge. Ali has successfully helped a large number of companies find the right set of employees. She has also helped over 70 individuals land their dream jobs.
Ali, Thank you so much for talking with us. Your experience with recruitment is pretty vast. You have also worked with some of the biggest names, helping them in recruitment. Tell us more about your past experience.
I had a rather unusual introduction into the recruiting world. I had started as a hiring manager for local “Mom & Pop” shops in my hometown. The connections I made in the area high schools and colleges are what I was able to tap to quickly fix the staffing situation at the theme park I was brought into with Kodak. I moved into a year-round role and worked between New York, New Jersey, and other locations worldwide.
The companies I worked with were some of the most recognizable brands in the world! The last project I worked on was staffing for the Disney Premiere of The Princess and The Frog in Manhattan. It was in a refurbished nightclub where guests could explore a “bayou” playground, learn to draw from actual Disney animators, and see authentic movie props. It was a fantastic opportunity, and I still maintain close connections with the people I worked with during that time.
I found myself in the healthcare sector after being injured by a patient in the emergency room I had been moonlighting in. This placed me on light duty, where I used my talent acquisition skills to recruit positions for everything from housekeeping to physician assistants.
I then moved into the Non-Profit sector with AmeriCorps and their Reading Partners Program. There I maintained a staff of roughly 500 volunteer tutors. After that, I went into Insurance/Healthcare once again.
Based on your experience, what are some of the things a recruiter looks for in a candidate?
Recruiters worth their salt will be looking at your response times, professionalism, and social presence.
Response times give them an idea of your sense of urgency – which is a massive deal for most positions! Potential employers want to know if you’re going to be a great communicator or if you’re willing to let things go for a minute.
Professionalism comes in how you respond: your grammar, cadence, salutations, and if you’re answering everything they asked or leaving out details they need. A great practice is to run your responses through Grammarly or Hemingway App to catch things you may have missed.
Social Presence is massive, and I’m mainly talking about LinkedIn regarding job hunting. Having a fully optimized LinkedIn profile gives you an enormous edge because it’s social proof that you are who you say you are in your career experience. I’ve seen great resumes hit the trash because the candidate didn’t exist anywhere but on their paper resume.
How and when did you come up with the idea of The Job Forge?
When the pandemic hit, I knew many people who joined the mass resignation and began job hunting. People looking to move their careers into a remote situation quickly realized everyone else had the same idea. My phone started blowing up with questions about what “contract to hire” meant and how to update their resumes quickly. I took care of everyone close to me and then some! I wanted to make this service available to anyone else feeling stuck, so I created The Job Forge. I have the different comprehensive packages on my site, but also some basic gigs on Fiverr as well. I wanted to make it as accessible as possible for as many people as possible.
According to you, what are some of the things that career coaches often miss out on?
That clients don’t have to be some industry big wig to need some help. I see a lot of coaches gearing their work to major hitters, not understanding that there’s a whole population of mid-level players that are hungry to throw their career into high gear.
I’ve worked with RNs looking to make Charge Nurse, Retail Managers wanting to switch industries completely, recent grads trying to get their foothold and start making bank, and parents returning to the workforce after time away to take care of their littles.
Whoever needs coaching should have access to it – and that’s my goal. To make Career Coaching accessible and affordable.
How do you address the gaps in the existing recruitment and career consulting services?
The issue I see happening with current recruiting practices is false barriers to entry for many positions. A great example of this is requiring intensive degrees and forcing employees into the office when it’s not necessary.
I recently attended an Equality Summit where the overwhelming response to “What is the number one thing holding your career back?” was employers requiring higher-level degrees for positions that could also be learned through real-world experience. Many people have spent their lives honing their skills, but they are instantly rejected because an advanced degree was not a pathway for them.
My recruiting approach is working with the employer to narrow down the actual needs to do the job – not what looks good on paper. It’s getting them to understand that an applicant can have the most expensive degree in the world and still not know as much as the person who has spent 20+ years in the industry.
And my Career Consulting service falls in line with that philosophy! Degrees are lovely for specific fields but not required for many others. I want to work with my clients regardless of their educational background. Whatever the barriers are, I want to create a plan for them to succeed!
Though every job has a different set of needs, In your experience, what are some of the most common traits recruiters are looking for in candidates?
I touched on a few earlier, but I can tell you a line that recruiters watch closely: Are you finessing your resume or lying about your abilities? There’s a big difference!
It goes without saying that you should never lie on your resume. Saying you have skills you very definitely don’t will not only get you quickly fired but can also get you a blanket industry ban if the community is small enough.
Finessing? That’s fine! And what I mean by that is, let’s say, you went outside your job description and learned new skills because of it. You can put those on your resume! It’s not lying – You did the work and have the abilities you claim to. Or asking your manager if you can change your title on your resume to reflect more accurately what you did under their employment. Then update your resume accordingly. Your resume is meant to reflect your skills and abilities in the best and most truthful way. And if you need help with that, my services are a click away!
Any suggestions you want to give to first-time job seekers?
Job hunting is a numbers game – especially now when there are many open positions and a ton of applicants. Even when you land an interview, keep applying! Nothing is final until you’re signing contracts accepting the job and have an official start date. Focus on your goals and move forward step-by-step. Clean up your social media, flesh out your LinkedIn profile, and revamp your resume and cover letter.
Oh, and please, please, create a professional email—just your name at Gmail or yahoo or whatever platform you use. Anything else is a potential red flag, and you don’t want to have your CV tossed in the trash for something so quickly addressed. Keep your personal email separate and create one specifically for job hunting.
Lastly, a big trend I am seeing is putting pictures of yourself on your resume. In the US and UK, this can actually really hurt your chances of getting an interview. Many companies will toss resumes with applicant pics on them because they don’t want to be seen as biased.
And if you need help with any of this, reach out to me! I’d love to chat!
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