Not unlike Steve Jobs and Apple, Pilot Property Management was born in a garage. As a real estate agent working for a company that did not choose to deal with rental property, Tony Easton found himself being asked to manage rentals. He created an office in his garage and the fight to match Mr. Jobs began. An early customer, a singularly cautious lady who owned a oceanfront duplex engaged him. One Friday he visited the property and entered a storeroom on the ground floor. It had silver foil covering the walls and ceiling and additional lights powered from the one socket in the room.
Tony contacted the lead spokesman for the 4 young men then registered to live in the lower unit and gave them 24 hours to move out. He used to see that individual around town for several years after (he was a very diligent employee at a local hotel. We would wave and laugh. The cautious lady never knew her home had such history.
Another tenant skipped out one night leaving a mess and some unpaid rent and moved to Pennsylvania. We sued him and got a judgment in the late 1980’s. In mid-1995 we got paid with interest when he decided to buy a home.
Pilot was not officially created until May 1998 when Tony finally decided to embark on managing homeowners associations. A friend invited him to an HOA board meeting at which the then manager presented a bill for replacing one of the building’s roofs for $9,500. Tony enquired quite inappropriately if it was the same building that he saw as he entered the complex where 5 gallon buckets of tar and rolls of asphalt sheeting were stacked. That was to become our first association which we continue to manage today.
Tony really got the idea to manage associations as a young gung ho Realtor who would try and take his buyer customers to the HOA meetings when they were interested in a particular community. He was appalled at the treatment; he and his client – a potential member of the community – were told to sit at the back of the room and not speak and sometimes told to simply leave as we had no business being present.
Being slow of wit it took him about another five years to actually summon the courage to start a company, invest in an office space, buy fixtures and furniture and start to loan the company money to meet rent and payroll. His first office manager was an out of work but competent person who one afternoon he found sleeping on the floor of the office on her yoga mat. He subsequently found a former Realtor who helped grow the business into a slightly more motion-filled office while still feeding it from other sources. When he finally realized (remember the slow of wit) that this was his company and he had better get to work if it was to succeed certain things changed. He became a slightly more competent finder of useful staff and a much more diligent salesperson.
Pilot started by offering to pick up the slack from the larger competitors by offering to take on any customer too small for them. We grew quickly but ended up driving all over town.
So in one breathtaking decision we fired our biggest customer in La Jolla who represented 40% of our income and focused on the north county coastal area only. Over time we have grown to take on customers in Vista and San Marcos but essentially decline anything south of the merge.
Some communities are happy to run their own affairs but want someone to handle the books. We can act as the financial custodian, collecting dues and paying bills. The fee is considerably less than full management.
In 2006, we recommended our communities set aside a certain sum for bad or doubtful debts. Not surprisingly not everyone believed they had members who might not pay their dues on time. Since then we have been able to assist communities collect overdue assessments, have created payment plans allowing he member to catch up on overdue amounts and in some cases have had to resort to more vigorous measures. We highly recommend certain attorney firms to act when a bankruptcy is declared or in the use of the foreclosure process.