Friday, September 05, 2014

Downtown Albany Apartments

Today begins a new chapter in our life.

In 1930 this apartment building was built in downtown Albany by a lady named Grace Burnap. She named it the Burnap Apartments. She passed away and the property passed on to her husband, Frank, and son, Willis. The Burnaps sold it to the Logsdons in 1943 and the name changed to the Logsdon Apartments. Since then the property has known many owners and most recently is called the Lyon Apartments after the street it sits on.

Starting today, 84 years after it was built, this building has new owners: us.

Like any 84 year old building, this one is in need of some TLC which is exactly what we're going to provide. It's going to be a huge effort, but it'll be worth it to bring these 11 units up to par. Our goal is to provide affordable, clean, and safe housing. This fits in line with our goal of loving people, providing homes for them, and improving the Albany community. Many people we talked to knew about the building and are excited to see the reputation improved.

Here are some of the crazier projects we're going to do in the next couple of months:

We have a water leak. Thankfully the wall has already been removed for us.

We also have mold...

All of the bathrooms are "classic" looking. They need to be cleaned REALLY well.

This kitchen will be re-done. Notice how the counter hangs over a little bit on the drawers below rendering them useless? IKEA to the rescue!

And then there's items like this.

There was a water leak. It's been fix, but the damage has not. That's half good news, at first we thought the water leak was still ongoing.

The basement actually offers a very interesting opportunity to add value. We're thinking about adding a laundry center after we finish the main floor rehab.

I'm still trying to figure out how someone breaks only the outside pane. Especially when it faces an office building.

Common questions we get asked:

Q: How many units?
A: 11 units. 6 studios. 5 single bedrooms.

Q: How can we afford this?
A: Well... not having kids helps (unfortunately). So does both people working. Most importably, it's spending significantly less than we earn. Being ready to jump on opportunities like this is one of the reasons we bought a small fixer-upper, and haven't fixed it up yet. Funny story: our neighbor asked me yesterday when we were going to fix up our home. I told her in about 5 years. She was shocked we would wait that long.

Q: How can you stand dealing with tenants?
A: We do five things to make it enjoyable for everyone.
1) We screen really well and find great people. See this BiggerPockets post on how to do it.
2) We communicate frequently with each of our residents.
3) We treat each resident with respect. Notice the subtle language... we call the people in our rentals residents, not tenants.
4) We provide a welcome package including quirks about the property, a list of contact numbers for utilities and service providers, and a couple move in items like paper towels and soap. This starts us off with a positive relationship.
5) We build systems to automate the process - i.e. they pay rent online - to reduce the amount of time we spend actively managing, and make it easier on them.

Q: How will we have time to make all the repairs?
A: We won't. We're hiring a couple people from a temporary agency to work for a couple months on the rehab. I'll be there to answer questions, work evenings and weekends, but they'll do 80% of the work. We're also open to friends coming over to get sweaty with us. :)

Q:What are we planning on doing with it?
A: The building is in need of some major rehab. During that time we won't have anybody living in the building. Once it's fixed, we'll re-rent it. The first phase of repairs will involve lots of paint, flooring, caulk, drywall, a couple new kitchens, and at least one new window. Then we'll turn our attention to the outside next spring.

Q: Can we see inside?
A: Definitely! Give us a call. Chances are we'll already by over there working.

Q: What about your 2014 goals?
A: Yeah... Clearly I spent more than $2,000 this year... That officially happened Thursday when I paid the closing costs. I think I'm okay with that.

Q: How do you feel?
A: We're excited! We're nervous (I couldn't sleep last night)! We're still excited! Ask us again in two months...we will probably say tired.