Dec 21

A member of the LandlordAssociationOrg Yahoo Group asked:

I’m considering investing in residential real estate and becoming a landlord. If I proceed down this path I would be inclined to buy a house rent it, learn, then buy a bit more every year. So I need some advice:

My inline reply

1. Is it a good idea?

I bought a duplex in December 1977 when I was 21, another in November 1978.  A couple in the spring of 1979 and a few more before that year ended. By May 1981 I had 70 units and quit my fairly good job. I have had a paycheck that did not bear my signature since.   Today we employee around 30 people in two states.

2. What do I need to know?

Everything you possibly can learn at someone else’s expense rather than making expensive mistakes yourself. 😉

Start with learning landlord tenant law and small business management.  Not knowing the law will cause you to fail.  Not thinking of this as a business will cause you to under perform and over work.

3. Any books or courses you recommend?

  •  Any books by John T Reed  that interest you.  They are the ones I wish I wrote.
  • The E-Myth by Michael Gruber
  • Landlording by Leigh Roberson
  • An oldie (first edition 1959)  but goody is How I Turned $1,000 Into a Million: In Real Estate in My Spare Time by William Nickerson.  It is not the path I took, but the principal is sound.

4. Any organizations I should join?

Any local landlord group or apartment association.  Try a few and see where you fit in best.  I attribute a lot of my success to being an active board member of the Apartment Association of Southeastern WI.  I have been on the board all but two years from 1989 to today.

Being active in the association you choose is the key as you will learn of  opportunity and risks  before most of the rest of the industry.  It will also speed up your learning of the laws that affect your business.

 

Jul 10

You look at conversions such as the knitting factory being turned into loft apartments on the near Southside and you wonder ‘How could they afford to do this, in this market?’

The answer is Low Income Tax Credit Financing.  A brief overview is you design a project, go to the state (WHEDA) and apply for tax credits.  If all goes well you and you are approved,  receive federal income tax credits.  There is a formula based on the amount you spend, the number of units that are reserved for occupants below the county median income and a bunch of other factors.

These credits will be far in excess of what a normal investor/developer can personally use.  So they “syndicate” the tax credits to an investment group.  The investors get income tax saving in exchange for the money you need to put the project together.

It is a very competitive application process.  It is a very intense process. It is a fairly expensive process.  If you are looking for an easy dollar, you are looking the wrong way.  I speak from the experience of having tried and failed at obtaining tax credit financing to create accessible infill housing on the near north and near south sides of Milwaukee a bit over a decade ago.

But if you can break into this market you can do well, while doing good.

So it was a decade ago and I haven’t tried since, so why bring it up today?  The July Apartment Association meeting features Keith Broadnax of Great Lakes Capital Fund, one of the tax credit financing investment groups.  Years later I still find this was an intriguing opportunity. Maybe someone in attendance will become the next Gorman and Company.  😉

When: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

WhereThe Best Western, 1005 S. Moorland Road, Brookfield 53005

Who:  Keith Broadnax of the Cap Fund

Cost:  Free for current AASEW members, $25 for guests and expired members.

 

 

 

Mar 28

Our properties are in Milwaukee and I am scared.

The proposal to eliminate residency requirements for municipal employees will pass and will further weaken the demand for housing in Milwaukee.  The result will be more abandonment of homes in older, lower value neighborhoods as owners in the outer band of Milwaukee make concession to sell or rent homes vacated by the exodus of city employees.  You read the city can’t afford to bulldoze the stuff that needs to be torn down today.  Where will this leave us? Will we be the one city in the nation New Orleans and Detroit can look down at as a failure?

Another aspect is much of your income do you spend within a few miles of your home.  I buy most of my groceries a mile from home.  I shop at the Walmart that is a mile and half from home and the Target that is a mile in the other direction.  As people move out there will be less sales in those stores and they will require less employees resulting in more of my tenants going from barely making it to failing.  City workers in general make an above mean wages so this will be a dramatic impact.

You live in the suburbs or your properties are there so you think this will be a good thing.  But in reality you should be as concerned as me.  Suburban school districts will have to expand their schools to accommodate the influx of former Milwaukee residents.  That will adversely impact your taxes.  The only alternative will be to  diminish the quality of the suburban  schools as they become more crowded and understaffed.  All the while they will be shuttering MPS schools

School teachers that wish to remain teaching in Milwaukee should be the largest group opposing this as the first group to leave will be city employees with children who are not satisfied with MPS. This will reduce job opportunities at MPS.  Carmen and I lived in Milwaukee for a while, but ruled Milwaukee out when we bought a new house due to problems her daughter and son had at MPS.  We moved to Greenfield.  Schools are good and safe. But I am so close I can walk to Milwaukee in ten minutes.  We have a very responsive police department.  Our water and sewer rates are much lower than the city  that provides the service ironically.

City workers in general will see layoffs, reduced opportunities  and lower employment as people leave.  They will now have to fight for jobs with those who already live outside of the city, but would not take employment in the city as they did not want to or cannot for economic reasons move to Milwaukee. So although they are the ones pushing for this they too will be paying a price.

You are saying:  “Sure Tim, I agree and would love to contact my Senator and Representative but I’m too busy unplugging toilets and fixing broken windows to keep up with politics”  Well. fear not.  You can find who your state legislators are at:  http://legis.wisconsin.gov/Pages/waml.aspx

Jan 01

What can be done collectively to improve our businesses, save costs or generate additional revenue?

I will post my in-depth thoughts on these topics over the next week or so as time permits me to clean my notes into coherent sentences. If any of the topics interest you comment here or email me at: Tim@ApartmentsMilwaukee.com

  • Reduce Maintenance Costs
  • Become better at sharing our collective knowledge
  • Group purchase of a distressed block or two
  • IT meets real estate

Reduce Maintenance Costs

Improve supply sourcing: ‘How can we use our collective shopping experiences and buying power to improve our bottom-line on a daily basis in 2013?’  More thoughts on better material sourcing.

More effective Maintenance Labor/Contractors/Services The ability to have skilled, cost effective maintenance available on demand is typically a missing element for most small to medium sized owners. Read more on  effective maintenance labor solutions that could change our industry.

Become better at sharing our collective knowledge

The ApartmentAssoc@YahooGroups.com is good beginning. But the idea could be greatly expanded upon. Perhaps a Wikipedia style “Best Practices” Guide* for Milwaukee rental owners. It would include everything that a property manager may run into.

Similarly a Mastermind Group could reap benefits if the right people were involved. Here is an overview of the Mastermind concept.

Also look at what groups like StartUpMKE are doing in the tech field.  Read my thoughts on increasing the sharing of knowledge.

Group purchase of a distressed block or two

Choose a very small geo area of Milwaukee. Think something on the terms of both sides of a block or two maybe three at the max. It should be depressed, as in make Detroit look like a nice place to live, depressed.

Apologizes to Detroit, but many people know of Detroit’s challenges and fewer of the challenges of Milwaukee.

Yes, unfortunately, there are many areas like this in Milwaukee and the numbers are increasing as foreclosures work their way through the system.

The plan would be to assemble a group of investors and turn the area for fun and profit. My  expanded thoughts on group purchasing of a distressed block.

Tech meets real estate

There certainly huge opportunities for software/web solutions to things that cause frustrations for owners and perhaps tenants.

Some ideas:

    • Setting rents to market. How much are you losing because your rents are too low or how much have you lost due to your rents being too high and your vacancies languish? Me, too. ;-(
    • Property acquisition tools Look at what sites like http://www.spotproperty.com/ are doing elsewhere, but not here.
    • Vacancy filling Craig’s List used to work, but now there is too much spam and fraud. What about a system where the tenants need to prequalify before actually applying. While pre qualifying by an individual owner may be problematic from a fair housing standpoint, a proper third party system could work.
    • Custom Management tools My company’s secret sauce is our highly customized management software. Nearly every task is one or two clicks and the computer makes many mundane management decisions on its own.
    • Put your solution here

You can read my thoughts on tech and real estate here

Conclusion

What? This is not enough ideas for one year? Then post yours on the comments!

Shy, then email directly at: Tim@ApartmentsMilwaukee.com either for my review only or to repost anonymously as you direct.

 

 

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Dec 11

You Are Naturally Short Housing

Your house is not an asset. It is a hedge.

You are born with a natural short housing position. For the rest of your life, you will need somewhere to live. Ideally, somewhere with a roof. To use a (slightly tortured) trading analogy, you are born with a short housing position.

Read the full article (It’s worth reading)


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