Tom Carnahan didn’t get into the real estate business to make a quick buck; real estate is his livelihood. A native Angeleno, Tom has spent his entire four-decade career as a Realtor® helping hard-working people buy and sell homes across Southern California. In addition, Tom and his family own five rental properties in Los Angeles County.
The public’s perception of landlords in Los Angeles County is oftentimes skewed. The vast majority of property owners and landlords are not large profit-hungry corporations. Rather, they are hard-working individuals with families and communities to support. That is the case for Tom. He, like most local property owners, is an ordinary man running a small business.
Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Tom is known for giving back to the community that raised him. When he’s not managing properties or selling homes, you can find him delivering Thanksgiving turkeys to the homebound, visiting the elderly, making calls for the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, or raising funds for the United Way and the American Diabetes Association.
“I just want to help society as a whole,” said Tom, who also raised two daughters.
Tom bought his first investment property in Calabasas in the mid-1980s, and has since purchased four additional single-family homes and condos in the County. The investments, however, have taken years to pay off.
“I ran a negative on my first investment property for probably 8 to 10 years before I started breaking even,” Tom said. “All of the properties I bought started out as a negative cash flow. Now after owning them for several years, and paying down the mortgages, those have started to show some cash flow as well.”
It takes more work than most people realize to own and manage properties, Tom explained. For example, he just had a tenant move out of a single-family home earlier this year and it cost nearly $4,000 for Tom to bring the property back up to market standards. That’s all part of doing business, he said, noting that he takes great pride in ownership.
That’s one of the reasons Tom is among the landlords in Los Angeles County fighting against new rent control regulations. Property owners must be able to charge renters fair market rates in order to be able to afford to maintain their properties. The costs of doing business are already high, and unnecessary additional regulations will only make the industry harder to operate in.
“If I had rent control on any of my properties, I would sell them and move my investments outside Southern California,” Tom said. “I’ve made calls to my elected officials on the state level, suggesting to vote against certain measures, and I’ve done the same thing at the City Council level.”
Indeed, Tom is fighting to protect not only his livelihood, but that of all property owners who rely on real estate to make a living. For him, real estate investment income is something he has waited years to see come to fruition – and it’s now a big part of his retirement plan. The same is true for countless other property owners in Los Angeles County.
But Tom isn’t just fighting on behalf of property owners; rent control is an issue that would adversely affect renters, too.
“You won’t see any builders building a property if they have rent control on it from day one,” Tom said. “There are unintended consequences of rent control. It sounds like a great thing for the people who can’t afford to buy, but there’s two sides to every property. You also have the property owners and, if rent control is established, there is going to be less and less of them able to get into California real estate as an investment. They’ll go other places, and renters will have fewer options. That means prices will go up. It’s a supply and demand issue.”