In Conversation: David Malcolm, President of Cal West Apartments in San Diego

David Malcolm of San Diego is no stranger to the real estate world. With over four decades of work experience in the field, Malcolm exceeds the expert level, to say the least. Starting as a young professional with an immense amount of ambition that he still displays today, Malcolm earned his real estate license while still in high school.

Since then, he has managed countless complicated real estate transactions adding to his track record as a successful businessman in San Diego and a committed member of the community, striving only to make it better.

These days, Malcolm wakes up every morning as the President of Cal West Apartments, a leading provider of quality rental housing in the greater San Diego area. In early March of 2020, Cal West Apartments, along with the rest of the world, faced the harsh reality of a global pandemic after the coronavirus seeped its way into daily living, turning social norms upside down.

Although multiple industries were devastated by the pandemic, Malcolm reflects on how the San Diego rental housing market has fared during the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s hard to believe, but our collections have been affected less than one percent from the prior years. This remarkable result is a real credit to our team members at Cal West Apartments. We took great care in ensuring our communities retained a safe, secure, and clean environment during COVID,” said Malcolm.

Amid the pandemic, controversy arose as media conveyed a high amount of uncertainty and lack of information around the pandemic and its effects. Since the onset of the pandemic, various surveys and studies have surfaced and highlighted the financial hardship and economic fallout in less affluent communities predominantly of Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant individuals, couples, and families. Data concerning a national inability to pay rent or mortgage revealed that millions struggled to pay their monthly rent on time.

After the pandemic hit the United States, an estimated 12.1 million adults, or one in every six adult renters, was behind on rent payments. The same study found that renters of color were more likely to report a household that was not up to date on monthly rent payments.

In comparison to the 12 percent of Caucasian renters behind on rent payments, other ethnic groups not caught up on rent included 24 percent Black, 21 percent Latino, 20 percent Asian, and 21 percent for a combination of multiracial adults who were American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

Malcolm attests to his experience at Cal West Apartments being quite different from what the media and studies reported in reflection of the rental housing industry’s national average.

“Our less affluent communities outperformed the higher-income communities on a percentage collected basis. The openness and honesty shown in these communities when issues arise are remarkable. Our residents, working with our staff, always found a win-win solution for the tenants and their landlord, Cal West Apartments,” said Malcolm.

American renters and homeowners steadily reported missing monthly housing dues or making late payments almost six months into the pandemic, even after government stimulus initiatives and protections like the CARES Act.

However, Malcolm feels that the Federal Government’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and the pandemic unemployment benefits have played a significant role in lending a hand for on-time rental payments from the less affluent communities.

“Without a doubt, federal funding helped all concerned. The government’s overwhelming response to COVID was a real ‘lifesaver’ to both tenants and landlords. It is unfortunate that some of our locally elected officials have a distorted view of how most tenants and landlords were able to use the financial support for a great outcome. Of course, there are examples of ‘bad landlords and bad tenants,’ but we have experienced very few who abused the laws passed during COVID,” said Malcolm.

For those residents in the Cal West Apartments community who did struggle to pay rent, Malcolm said that he and the staff went into action entirely fueled by care and wellbeing for the tenants.

When COVID ‘lockdown’ started, our tenants were scared and rightfully so. Truth be told, the lockdown brought about many sleepless nights for landlords. Coming together as a community, we worked with our tenants’ needs. With our schools closing, single-parent households were especially hard hit. We not only wanted to help financially, but we wanted to make sure the children had a safe environment to enjoy our outside facilities. I really believe our staff at Cal West Apartments were rewarded when our tenants saw our concern for the well-being, both financially and staying healthy. Yes, COVID is not over, but we are a proud community of tenants and landlords working together for a mutually beneficial, financially secure and healthy future.

The Cal West team holds a proud reputation for successfully integrating development, financing, management, and legal, which they define as necessary disciplines for success.

The passionate team welcomes challenges, such as those brought on by the pandemic, and continuously strives to push their thought process outside of the box. With years of combined experience, the team at Cal West Apartments continues to work hard through the pandemic, stay nimble, and be there for tenants with the dedication to its core goal of providing quality housing.

About David Malcolm

David Malcolm is a San Diego real estate expert with over four decades of work experience. Since earning his real estate license while in high school, he has managed numerous complex real estate, development, and financial transactions. He earned his real estate broker’s license in 1974 and later graduated from Harvard Business School’s Presidents Program. Malcolm holds the highest professional commercial real estate designation, CCIM – Certified Commercial Investment Member, and is a Harvard Business School Lecturer.

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