This Week’s Property- Three Family in Everett
I thought this week we would check out a new listing of a 3 family in Everett. Everett, oh the things I hear about Everett; I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard someone say “buy in Everett because of the casino, you are going to make so much money”. Seriously, that’s a direct quote from many, many, many people.
Look, do I think the casino will help Everett? As an investor, I’m most interested in the fact that the casino is projected to bring in thousands of new jobs. Those people have to live somewhere, so I feel comfortable knowing there will be strong demand for my units for the foreseeable future. Am I going to get rich and retire because values are going to skyrocket? I doubt it.
Grading the Investment Opportunity
If you are new to this blog series, take a quick look at this section to see how I grade the properties.
For the investor, grading begins with NOT overpaying (as is clearly the norm today!). Now, I should say that investment goals can DRASTICALLY differ between one person to another. Some people are going to look for significant cash flow, while others who don’t need that want to park their money in a high quality location.
Now I should tell you guys, I am kind of in between; I look for cash flows and am not a speculator, but I also have an appreciation (pun not intended) for what it means to buy in a market like Boston versus other US markets (like Cleveland, where one million could buy you 15 units). But, because there are different types of investors, I’ve tried to come up with a grading system that works across different investment types. Finally, if you are interested, in the last section of this post I’ll add a section to show you how I analyze rents and numbers.
23 Water Avenue Everett MA –Priced at $749K, Three Unit Building
Overall Investment Grade: B
Let’s jump into Everett with a new listing of a three family in Everett with a unit mix on one 3 bedroom unit and two 2 bedroom units.
The location of the property is great! You’re in West Everett, very close to Night Shift Brewing and the major shopping complexes with Target, Costco, and Best Buy etc. In my opinion this is one of the best parts of Everett as you are close to the major developments going on in the city (in fact, I know plenty of millennials starting to buy luxury condos around this area now!). The property is also right off of Main Street, so there is good access to the bus lines, and you are pretty close to Wellington T Stop.
In terms of the actual property, looks like unit 2 has been cosmetically renovated while the other units are probably going to need a cosmetic facelift. I do also like the fact that you have updated electrical.
Finally, you have off street parking. Even in Everett, I’ve noticed more and more tenants are really on the lookout for convenient off-street parking.
Your roof is a bit older here at nine years old, plus the listing mentions updated electrical but nothing about the plumbing, so I would assume it’s on the more dated side. Also, the listing only has four pictures, and my assumption is those are of the renovated units. If the listing broker did not put up pictures of unit one and three, likely means they are no the prettiest units.
The major negative with this property is that two of the units are tenants at will (not at leases) paying well-below market rents. One of the units is actually paying $1100 for a 2 bedroom, which likely means that tenant has been there for a long time and may me tougher to get out once you own the building.
If this is your first time reading this blog series, check out the last section to see the assumptions of how I run numbers.
For calculating numbers, we need to evaluate and see how the property performs when we buy it with current tenants versus how it will perform when we “stabilize” the building (i.e. fluff the dates units and bring them to market rents).
If we look at purchasing this with our standard assumptions, then our monthly cash flows (the cash in the wallet) on day one with current tenants will be: -$350 per month.
With the current tenant mix, we are going to be bleeding a little bit every month. It’s going to be imperative to get to work and try and stabilize the building as quickly as possible. To stabilize the building, I’m going to assume we are going to spend about $20,000 between dealing with the existing tenants and building cosmetics.
Once stabilized, I’m going to assume that our new rent roll will be $2100 for the 3 bedroom unit and $1800 for the two 2 bedroom units. With these numbers, our cashflow number will be: $600 per month. Not too bad, though nothing to brag about.
I think it’s a decent purchase, but I do think there is potential for quite a bit of headaches without as much reward on the backend. In fact, if you were more concerned for cash flow, I would probably skip this one altogether. The real attraction of this property to me is the location, as you are buying in a great part of Everett. If you’re ok with lower monthly returns to sit in a better location, then this one may be worth considering.
Supplement: How I “Run My Numbers”
I don’t want to get all up in the numbers here, but there are a few key things I should point out when talking about these cash flow numbers. Here are my key assumptions:
In this article I'm going to go over three general criteria you need to assess when putting offers on investment condos or two/three family investment properties in the Boston area.
This is the most obvious criteria, but all negotiations start with a price, so you need to know what price make sense for you in terms of your cash flow numbers and your criteria and goals. The one thing that needs to be emphasized here is that many new investors get hung up on price, but there are other levers that can significantly impact the value and outcome of your investment besides price. Treat price as just one card (albeit an important one) that you can use in your hand.
Look, for the most part, we're dealing with old inventory in the Boston area that can date to the early 1900s and even 1800s. If a property is that old and it has not been recently fully gut-rehabbed, then there are bound to be some issues. What’s key is to differentiate between small maintenance issues that a handy-man can fix in a couple of days versus big, significant issues that require specialized contractors and heavy work and can cost a significant amount. To put this in context, there is a big difference between having a property that may need some paint and/or new kitchen cabinets versus a property that has a structural issue in the basement or needs to be re-wired.
That being said, in market such as Boston, you may need to prepare to use your inspection contingency (which allows you to bring a home inspector through the property) as another card in your arsenal that you can play with. This of course is very unique to each investor based on his or her personal goals, experience in the field, contacts of contractors, and risk appetite. The take-away though is you need to view this another lever you may have to play with when negotiating offers depending on your exact situation.
Last but certainly not least is the negotiations around existing tenants. If you are buying two or three families from a landlord who has owned the building for years, then you will often see tenants in the building that are tenants at will, or tenants that are on month to month contracts with no lease in place. Also, more often than not these tenants are paying under market rents (as the previous landlord is “happy” that they don’t call him/her too often).
What does this mean for you? Well, tenants at will (TAW) can more easily be “booted” from the property than a tenant on a lease either through an eviction or giving “cash for keys” (where the landlord will essentially pay the tenant to leave). What you need to consider when evaluating the situations is how comfortable you feel keeping these existing tenants versus trying to force the landlord to deliver the units vacant. You need to tie this to your overall business plan for the investment; is this an investment where you were planning on making a few updates to the units to get higher rent, or is this something that you are planning on just sitting on as-is? This becomes very unique to each investors and their own personal situation and business plan, but again the take-away is that this must be viewed as another lever that you can play with when structuring an offer.
Not so long ago, Somerville was completely different. Construction was not omnipresent and new hip restaurants and shops were not opening on every corner. Yet, fast forward to today, the city has become one of the most vibrant areas around Boston.
The city carries many attractions, the most prominent being the Assembly Row development which has everything from large big-box retailers to up scale restaurants and a movie theater. Besides Assembly Row, there are a number of other attractions the city offers that are unique to the Boston area. So whether you are just in the area for the day or you are considering moving there, here is a to-do list for you!
Museum of Bad Art
Located in the basement of the Somerville Theatre resides a collection of some of the world’s worst art. The level of complexion is certainly different than your average second-grader's art class efforts. As you stroll through the museum, you really begin to experience a whole new side to art that is different from your typical exhibition.
Staying in the same building as the Museum of Bad Art, the Somerville Theatre is an independently operated and owned theater that shows everything from huge blockbuster movies to small-studio productions. Located in trendy Davis Square, the theater has a completely different feel to it than your average AMC theater.
Candlepin Bowling and Flatbread Pizza
When you first hear of this combination, it may sound strange. Candlepin bowling is supposed to be a New England-born tradition, which is really just regular bowling except the pins are wooden sticks (instead of those regular white, plastic pins) and the balls are significantly smaller. If you are looking to combine a little time of relaxation with food, then Flatbread Pizza, located in the same building, is a fantastic combination.
Activist Marching Bands
In the falls in David Square, there are a number of troupes of activist marching bands! It’s a great item to add to the check-list of things to do in Davis Square on a sunny, fall weekend day.
The craft beer industry has certainly been growing these last few years, and Somerville is home to a number of companies. One of the most highly-raved about places is the Bantam Cider Company (technically hard cider and not beer, but just as good). Other really good brewing companies to check out are the Aeronaut Brewing Company and the Somerville Brewing Company (pleasantly nicknamed Slumbrew).
So, there are certainly quite a few unique things to do in Somerville that are not comparable to anywhere else around Boston. The city clearly has an artsy and hip vibe that lives through the restaurants, shops, and entertainment areas. Plus, it's only 15 minutes away from downtown, so it really is combining the best of both worlds; a vibrant and exciting city that is really close to a major downtown area.