Real estate investment book & package launch

After a ten-year marathon of inspecting, buying, rehabbing, and selling 53 units of buy-and-hold rental real estate, we’ve written a book about the process & assembled a collection of great tools…. Continue reading

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How to really see a woman. A response to “Seeing a Woman

How to really see a woman. A response to “Seeing a Woman: A conversation between a father and son”, by Nate Pile

I came across an article shared on Huffington Post, about the objectivization of women by men. This post summarized a “planned conversation” that a father promised to have with his son if he ever caught that son looking “inappropriately” at a woman. The article should still be linked here: https://natepyle.com/seeing-a-woman/

I believe this article had fantastic intentions, that being to help elevate a young man’s view of women as equal human beings, and not objects to be leered and whistled at. But I think a little differently about all this and I’d like to share it here for your thought… Continue reading

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Gratitude or pride?

At fifty-one years old, I own three businesses, have written three books, played in an award-winning country band, and am blessed with having more “enough-ness” than any man could ask for. Rewind fifteen short years ago, and I was down and out. “Scarce-ness” was the watchword of the year. My wife asked me once, “Don’t you feel proud of all you’ve accomplished, considering where you were back then?” I didn’t really know how I felt until she asked me. But I do now…. Continue reading

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Choosing the path with heart: Being ourselves

Many of us fantasize about what we’d do if we could go back to an earlier age, but retain our current memories and knowledge. I think I’d work on some skills, habits, and character traits (after buying a certain list of stocks of course.) One character trait that I really wish I had now is the ability to be myself completely. To be and act 100% from my core personality without worrying about what people think. The term “being yourself” has always sounded a little “fishy” to me; a bit gray and undefined, but I still find myself wishing I could be more of that “kid” that didn’t fit in when he was a youngster. Continue reading

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Lack and Limitation: Our Drug of Choice?

As seekers, we often use the tools of exposing commonalities–common denominators or underlying similaritie–as a means of uncovering the “truth” about “things.” What do A, B and C have in common? What always happens after X,Y, or Z happen? What does this tell us? Continue reading

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‘Honey Do’ list for a man for his marriage

If you’re anything like me, you stop and wonder every so often what your “job” is as a husband and how you’re measuring up at that job. Can I do more? Am I doing too much? Am I becoming too domesticated?? Do I still wear the pants in the family or am I whipped beyond recognition? (Hint: If you think “wearing the pants” is sexist, you’re probably whipped beyond recognition). Being married to a woman is tricky. Just when you think everything’s running on all cylinders, she seems unhappy about something. And being men, we tend to think it’s something we did–or didn’t–do, and need to fix. Again, if you’re “anything like me”, the ONLY way you know the answer to the question “how is my marriage doing?” is by asking your wife! So what follows is a sort of “checklist” of things to do in your marriage or long term relationship so that you know whether you’re doing your job or not. Let’s get started… Continue reading

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Some things a man needs to do before he gets married

Before any man gets hitched, ties the knot and settles down, there are a few things and man should be, do or have before he does so. These “pre requisites”, in various forms, can be found throughout the earliest societies on earth. Continue reading

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Are you a feminized man?

What is feminized behavior in a man? It’s often misunderstood to mean “feminine” behavior but there’s a distinct difference. My personal definition of feminized behavior is any “thought, word or action implemented by a man in a style usually displayed by a woman”. Continue reading

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Law of Attraction F.A.Q.

I had some questions a few months back about the law of attraction and just how it “all worked” – here’s some of that conversation below: Continue reading

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A man’s REAL value to other men.

What purpose do you serve in other men’s lives?

Friendship? Competition? Watch each other’s back? Continue reading

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Urging Governor Mills to life moratorium on evictions & her response

I’d like to address the issue of the executive order regarding evictions. For the most part, rental units in our communities (and especially here in Kennbec County and more rural areas) are owned by “salt of the earth mom and pop” types who own a handful of rental units and earn less in salary than some of our tenants.

The barrier to entry in our business is high: Down payments of 25% are the norm to purchase a rental property. Furthermore, roughly fifty percent of our prospective “customers” lie to us at some level to gain entrance to our rental units, and one bad tenant can cost thousands in lost rent, damages, cleaning, and even legal fees (most of which we are prohibited from collecting). The average “take home pay” for a rental unit is between $25 and $100 per month per unit.

My wife Deb and I personally own 5 buildings, totaling 29 units and have at least 3 tenants who earn far more than we do. These buildings are our primary source of income. Our “take home pay” puts us barely into the mid point of middle-class. We are fortunate, in that as of July 1st we have not had a single missed rent payment, and we’re 100% rented. And frankly, we’re the rule and not the exception. Most of my colleagues have had very little disruption thus far.

Now, although I understand the importance of not having a slew of homeless people introduced into society during this precarious time, I believe that the current executive order unnecessarily endangers the livelihood of many hard-working middle class landlords; people who represent the second largest industry in Maine. Very few evictions lead to homelessness, at least in our area. When a person is evicted for non-payment of rent, they generally use the money they withheld from their landlord to fund their move in expenses for their next apartment. Alternately, they may stay with friends or family, people they’d be in close proximity with anyway. Hence the moratorium does very little to mitigate homelessness, but does much financial harm to hard-working, productive Maine landlords.

An unfortunate and unintended consequence of this order is that the very people who are financially unsound and irresponsible are given the upper hand. I believe that some allowance of discretion should be given to landlords. We know which of our tenants should be assisted and which ones are just taking advantage. This executive order implies that we’re not capable of using, or willing to use such discretion. It protects a few at the cost of many.

Additionally, the wording is grossly misunderstood and abused by the very group of people most likely to take unfair advantage of the order. The message received by them is “Governor Mills says I don’t have to pay rent.” You and I know that’s not the spirit of the order in the least but the very people who don’t have the sense to save up for a rainy day are the ones who don’t have the capacity to understand the intent and content of the executive order.

Furthermore, to postpone court evictions is largely unnecessary. Despite the wording of landlord-tenant law, it takes roughly double the stated time to get an unwilling-to-move tenant out of an apartment. (Roughly two months from first termination notice until execution of writ). Our hands are already tied in many ways, and this executive order all but guarantees an unfair share of hardship for those landlords who constitute the second largest industry in Maine.

Thank you for all you are doing and thank you for listening. What a thankless job you’ve landed yourself! We pray you find some joy in your role during these difficult days. And we hope you take these words in the spirit of hope and optimism in which they were intended.

Ken & Deb LaVoie
Southern Angel Properties
www.sangelproperties.com
207-873-9321

From Dorian Cole
Director of Constituent Correspondence
Office of Governor Janet T. Mills

Thank you for contacting Governor Mills with your concerns about restrictions on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Governors’ Executive Order #40 does not interfere with evictions brought to remove tenants who threaten the safety or property of others. Further, the Order does still require tenants to pay the amounts they owe, including back pay. However, as a separate branch of government, the Judiciary makes their own decisions about their operations; the Governor does not have authority to open the courts. The courts, like many entities, have been open for months for limited types of business. As you know, one category of cases that has been postponed are the enforcement of eviction actions. The Judiciary informs us that eviction, foreclosure, collections, disclosures, small claims, and the violations bureau are currently scheduled to start up again on August 3, and that the clerks can start scheduling those case types at any time for dates in August.

Governor Mills understands the challenges the pandemic and the subsequent closure of the courts has caused to many landlords across the state. That is why she sent letters to Maine financial institutions urging them to work proactively with Maine property owners who are landlords – those who are responsible for thousands of rental apartments, homes, retail, and other commercial establishments – and are experiencing financial hardship from COVID-19. They deserve flexibility from their lenders as many of their own tenants find themselves unable to pay rent right now. These property owners are an important part of the economy that will need time to recover, and they are key to keeping people in their homes during our emergency orders and to keeping small businesses ready to reopen when this crisis has passed.

Currently, 31 states and DC have halt evictions orders in place. The remaining states have either had orders in place that have expired, their courts have been closed, and a handful never had any halt eviction orders in place. Please rest assured, Governor Mills will continue to seek solutions to address rental income shortages with the Legislature and Maine’s Congressional delegation.

Thank you,

Dorian Cole
Director of Constituent Correspondence
Office of Governor Janet T. Mills

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To Governor Mills regarding “Stay Safer at Home” plan during COVID-19

First, I want to commend you on standing up and doing what you feel is best. I know it’s not easy, in these times of heightened divisiveness to rise above the insults and vitriol from all sides and stay the course. I lean conservative in my views but I also understand that socio economic issues are multi-layered and complex and not easily or quickly solved. And so I’ve struggled to offer these suggestions as succinctly as possible. I know you’ve got a lot to do and I won’t waste your time with too much prose and only a little personal agenda.

My overall message and perspective is that Maine (being a rural, spread-out environment overall, with a “built in” propensity for social distancing) is the perfect environment for a demonstration of the trust in the discretion and good sense of its citizens and small business owners.

For the most part, I’ve witnessed nothing but safe, sensible behavior as I’m out and about. I arrived at Home Depot several days ago and saw a full parking lot, but the people in the store mostly wore masks or at least kept their distance. Additionally, those very people most “at risk” are self-governing by staying at home, and engaging in distancing behaviors such as ordering take-out and having less at-risk family or friends do their shopping for them. And the VERY highest “at risk” folks have been doing that for years anyway. Because we’ve been “practicing” for nearly two months, the behavior of social distancing and washing hands and other safety measures is largely ingrained, and thus I believe we can be “trusted” with a bit more leeway.

Aside from Cumberland County, we’re largely rural, and as such we could be allowed far more discretion than a more urban area. We’re already a conservative cautious bunch. In Kennebec County, we’ve only observed 104 cases, and 36 recoveries. On a normal day, many of us, especially retired or self-employed, don’t come in contact with more than a dozen people in the course of a week anyway. I do realize it’s difficult to allow freedom in one county or area and have more rigid restrictions an hour away but I believe that allowing more discretion would send several positive messages, the two most relevant of which are:

1.) Our government trusts us to do the right thing. In an age where government mistrust (both ways) is the order of the day, this would be a very “out of the box” approach and would pay immeasurable dividends for the future successes of the initiator.

2.) It would be very encouraging to, and increase the rate of survival for, many small businesses who rely on foot traffic such as restaurants, salons, smaller shops, etc.

Even in Waterville, one of the biggest cities in Kennebec County, you rarely see “packed stores” anyway. I can’t tell you the number of restaurant workers whose livelihoods would be saved if they could start serving now, a month ahead of your timeline. A simple reservation system and maximum capacity restriction would suffice when combined with the already in place “self-policing” of our most at-risk. Add to that the fact that during these times of economic uncertainty there will already be in place downward pressure on dining & shopping, which aside from groceries and basic supplies is a luxury that people are hesitant on which to splurge right now. Hence a bit of risk mitigation is already in place with people being a bit more conservative with their money, and the very conservative “old Yankee” caution of most of the population of Maine.

Many of we residents take vacations “in state” at OOB and other coastal and mountain locations June through August. I think that the opening of the hotels, resorts and campgrounds NOW instead of June & July would be a low-risk way to encourage our population, much the same as opening the smaller businesses. Campgrounds have a built in safety net of separate personal structures (tents and campers) as well as having very little facilities to sanitize. Campgrounds are miniature neighborhoods with “stay safer at home” already built in. Beachfront hotels in OOB and other regions are also reasonable risks as the beach is a wide open area, enabling very easy “social distancing”.

I do recognize that you are attempting to draw a line between what Maine residents can do and what visitors can do and I certainly commend that, and because of that distinction I believe that we residents have a little more margin of error that is not yet reflected in this plan.

In closing, I’d like to address and issue that strikes closer to home: that of landlord tenant relations and the executive order regarding evictions and rental assistance. For the most part, rental units in our communities are owned by “salt of the earth mom and pop” types who own a handful of rental units and earn less in salary than some of our tenants. The barrier to entry in our business is high: Down payments of 25% are the norm. Roughly fifty percent of our perspective “customers” lie to us at some level to gain entrance to our rental units, and one bad tenant can cost thousands in lost rent, damages, cleaning, and even legal fees (most of which we are prohibited from collecting). We own 5 buildings, totaling 29 units and have at least 3 tenants who earn far more than we do. Our “take home pay” puts us barely into the mid point of middle-class. Now let me be clear; we’re among the more fortunate. As of May 1st we have not had a single missed payment, and we’re 100% rented. But frankly, we’re the rule and not the exception. Most of my colleagues have had very little disruption thus far. Now, although I understand the importance of not having a slew of homeless people introduced into society during this precarious time, I believe that the current executive order unnecessarily endangers the livelihood of many hard-working middle class landlords. One unintended consequence of this order is that the very people who are financially unsound and irresponsible are given the upper hand. (Those who would have trouble paying rent after missing one or two paychecks.) I do appreciate the landlord assistance plan of receiving a one-time $500 assistance check. This is certainly a big help but also places unfair restrictions on collecting the difference later. I believe that some allowance of discretion should be given to landlords. We know which of our tenants should be assisted and which ones are just taking advantage. This executive order implies that we’re not capable of such discretion. It protects a few at the cost of many. Additionally, the wording is grossly misunderstood by the very group of people most likely to take unfair advantage of the order. The message received by them is “Governor Mills says I don’t have to pay rent.” You and I know that’s not the spirit of the order in the least but the very people who don’t have the sense to save up for a rainy day are the ones who don’t have the capacity to understand the intent and content of the executive order. Further, to postpone court evictions is largely unnecessary. Despite the wording of landlord-tenant law, it takes roughly double the stated time to get an unwilling-to-move tenant out of an apartment. (Roughly two months from first late notice until execution of writ). Our hands are already tied in many ways, and this executive order all but guarantees an unfair share of hardship for those landlords who serve the very class of constituent the law is intended to protect and constitute the second largest industry in Maine.

Thank you for all you are doing. I hope you take these words in the spirit of hope and optimism in which they were intended.
Ken LaVoie
207-873-9321

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Merry Christmas 2018

My underlying mission here is always the same: Excavate & dust off some “bit of God” that’s become buried under our bustling lives. Illuminate something about Christmas that explains why it’s so much more powerful than just another hour at Mass or another bedtime prayer…. Continue reading

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Are you ready to die

I never really thought much about death…mow own mortality, until my Dad died a few years back.  I’m one those lucky saps who reached middle age without really losing anyone super-close.  My grandmother died a few years before, and she was one of my top 5 favorite people of all time, but it was also sort of expected. Sad but not shocking. 

But my Dad was another story. He died at 59 years old. I received a call from the Cambodian Embassy at 11 PM, awakened from a deep sleep to hear that he’d died earlier that day.  Continue reading

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Let me live a little longer

This post marks a change in the way I plan to write. In the past I’ve focused on “facts” and “content” but there was something that bothered me about these writings. They seemed a bit phony and empty. Some are well written, sure, but there’s something missing. I figured it out finally after writing my last Christmas letter to my clients. My wife always reads these letters and gives me a “pass” if they make her cry, or at least give her a few goosebumps. Continue reading

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Survival Directive

So individuals, organizations, professions, even ideologies such as religions will take on what appears and functions as a “survival directive.” It will do what it needs to do to survive, similar to the traits of a single biological organism. Continue reading

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