Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

July 16, 2018

How to Build a Massive Real Estate Portfolio w/o Going Crazy

We're gonna talk a little bit about building a massive real estate portfolio without going crazy and how to use leverage. What exactly is leverage and how do you use it?

So, a lot of landlords, a lot of rental property investors, get into the business, they buy a property, they buy their second property, or maybe it's just their first, and they immediately become an accountant, a maintenance person, a landscaper, a bookkeeper, an attorney.

When you're buying your first and second property, you tend to do a lot of things yourself to keep costs low. You're cutting the grass, you're trimming the hedges, you're collecting rent, you're knocking on doors, you're negotiating with tenants about rental increases.

You're doing all of these different things yourselves, and you're driving yourself crazy. It's hard to keep up with, and in order to continue to build your portfolio, there's no way that you could ever operate like that.

So, we're gonna talk about four ways to leverage yourself, or use leverage, to continue to build. Number one, we'll get right into it, number one would be building systems. The system is a, a perfect example would be McDonald's. A McDonald's restaurant would never be able to be as big as they are without systems.

When you go in and you work for McDonald's, you knew immediately from day one, or within the first week, how long a hamburger should cook for, how long the fries should be done. They're not hiring people and second-guessing, or people coming and trying to figure out how long the fries go down for. There is a system, a manual, a handbook in place that already tells you exactly how long those fries should be down for.

So, creating your business or building your rental property business like McDonald's, and creating systems and checklists for everything for yourself, would be step number one, or excuse me, leverage use number one is systems. Going in and, if you do something correctly, if you do something well, you're creating a move-in checklist for your tenants. Your tenant's moving into the apartment, you wanna walk through each bedroom, you wanna walk through the kitchen, you wanna turn on the dishwasher, you wanna make sure all these things are working in a good working order. You create that checklist, and now that checklist is something you can hand off to somebody else in the future, so you can do something more important later on.

So, if you're one of those people that believe you do everything right yourself, and you do it yourself because you do it right, that's great. Document what you do, and then hand that system off to someone else later on. Create a repeatable process for yourself, and you can do that with almost everything.

Number two, use tools. Tools as a form of leverage. Just like a plumber uses a plunger, he's using a tool. He or she is using a tool to unclog that toilet, or that tub, or whatever it may be. Use tools in your business to build that portfolio as well. An example of a tool would be accounting software.

If you're using, if you have one property right now, or two properties, and you can use a yellow legal pad to take all of your income and expenses down, that's great. But you're never gonna get to 30 units or multiple properties, 30 properties, doing it that way.

So, implement an accounting system into your business now while it's small, to allow yourself to grow. A good accounting system are things like QuickBooks, Quicken, and then personal finance software, like Microsoft Money, can also help you out with a lot of your rental property stuff as well. And then management software as well, using a system to track your leases.

When are your leases due, when are your tenants going to need to renew, stuff like that can all be taken care of with some type of tool, some type of software for your rental property business. I would say, last but not least, on the tools note, is potentially building a website for yourself. Websites are very easy to build nowadays and they're very cheap.

Two things that you can do with your website are to help you collect rents, if it allows that feature, if that website allows tenants to do so on the website, and then two is continuous marketing. If you are trying to build now, you can put photos of your rental properties on this website, and people can go and they'll see when the lease is being renewed, it's up in September. They look at the photos, maybe there's a spot for an application to be filled out right on your website as well.

So, leverage point number three would be using people. People leverage. So, instead of trying to do everything yourself, if you are great at accounting, but you suck at cutting the hedges, or landscaping, then shell that job out to someone else. If it takes you four or five hours to do landscaping work at your rental property, but you can shell it out to someone else who's gonna get it done in an hour, yes, of course you have to pay them, but that's four or five hours, or three hours, or whatever it may be, that you could be doing something else that you're actually good at and that you enjoy doing. Maybe it's going out and looking for other properties, or maybe it's taking care of the books, or something that you can actually do efficiently.

Now, the couple other people you'd wanna have on your team, to consider hiring, is a property manager and snow removal. Again, is it worth your time to go out and shovel snow, when you can potentially get neighborhood kids to do it, or a professional company to handle that for you? A handyman, a personal assistant, a bookkeeper, and then a rental agent.

You find a lot of landlords are still taking calls on their vacant rentals. Here in the city of Boston, I would suggest that you hire a rental agent. They are going to do the lease for you, they are going to do the tenant vetting for you, they are going to do the showings, and take the calls, they are going to vet the tenant out in terms of background checks, and all the other, employment verification, and everything else that is taking up a lot of your time, and doesn't allow you to grow. Doesn't allow you to build that massive portfolio, if you were doing all those things yourself.

Last but not least is financial leverage. Money leverage. So, building a massive portfolio takes money. It takes some money, and most people say, "Well, I don't have any additional cash to invest." So, using financial leverage in terms of, maybe potentially finding partners. Maybe you have $20,000 to invest, and you can find another partner with $20,000, or maybe multiple partners with $20,000, and now you are all in a similar space, where your portfolio hasn't been able to grow, but combining together your resources, your financial resources, you are able to take that next step.

You could also barter for services. Going back to, hey, I'm really good at accounting work, I'm really good at keeping the books, but I don't like the psychical aspects of landscaping or snow removal. But do you have another landlord within your network, or another friend, that you could barter for services? Maybe you do their taxes or help them with some of their accounting work, and they do some snow removal for you, creating that barter opportunity there, versus you trying to, and them trying to do everything themselves.

So, in conclusion, decide what you're good at, decide what you like doing. Decide what you're not good at, decide what you do not like doing, and then shell out those things that you don't like doing. Stick to what you're good at, you can be really efficient at, and use leverage. Leverage is, again, systems. It's tools, it's people, and it's financial leverage. If you do those things, you'll ultimately grow a massive real estate portfolio. 

July 16, 2018

5 of the Best Things You Can Do to Build Wealth in Real Estate

Number 1: The number one thing that you can do is work on patience. Wealth in Real Estate is not built overnight. You have to continuously think about the long game, continuously look at the future, and stay focused. True wealth isn't built in a couple months. It isn't built in a year. It takes time. It takes continuous focus over the long haul to get to where you want to be in Real Estate. So, that's number one. Staying patient, staying focused, looking at the long game.

Number 2: Probably the most important is good credit. Good credit if you don't have it, work on it, improve it. Good credit is imperative to success in Real Estate and long-term wealth building. And the reason being, a lot of deals, people look at real estate as, "Well, I can't succeed in real estate, or I can't buy real estate because I don't have enough of a down payment, or I don't have ... Even if I get the first one, how do I get the second one?" Good credit is often a bypass through a lot of the hurdles. Good credibility. If you have credibility within a market, you can solve a lot of financial problems using leverage. So, making sure that you understand what your credit score is, how credit is affected, and paying attention to your credit score over the long term can really help you build wealth through Real Estate.

Number 3: Continuously searching for opportunities. Telling everyone you know what you do. You're a Real Estate Investor. You buy real estate. You're looking for opportunities. So, always, whether it be at a Super Bowl party, a baby shower, whatever events you go to, working with your local Real Estate agent, finding a good Real Estate agent, and letting that Real Estate agent know this is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm an investor. I'm constantly searching for opportunities. Again, even if you don't have the money at the moment, people say, "Well, I don't have the money, so I don't want to go out and search for opportunities." Things will work themselves out if you are continuously being presented. You don't have to take every opportunity, but if you're continuously being presented with good opportunities from your network, this is one of the keys to building wealth long term.

Number 4: Continuously educating yourself. There is so much to learn in Real Estate, and what separates a lot of successful people from the people that don't quite make it is their continuous hunger for education, a continuous hunger for knowledge. So, I'll give you an example. It's not just about reading Real Estate books all the time, but within Real Estate, you're reading sales books on negotiating techniques. When you're buying, and you're selling, you want to be very versed in the sales field. You want to read some legal. You don't have to become an attorney, but especially if you're buying rental properties, you should know the basics of landlord-tenant law. So, you want to spend some of your time reading a little bit and staying up a little bit about legal matters that have to do with Real Estate.

Financing. The more you understand about financing, and financing is big. It presents a lot of opportunities to you when you understand different types of mortgage from FHA to commercial mortgages to interest-only to balloon payments. Knowing and understanding what all of these things are allows you to create different opportunities for yourself and allows you to understand how you could finance opportunities that are being presented to you.

You should also be educating yourself a little bit about the construction process, the renovation and rehab process, and then marketing as well. If you are continuously networking and putting yourself out there, finding a good Real Estate agent that you can work with, that's great. But you can also do some marketing yourself and go out there and find deals directly, too. If you're a buyer, potentially people that want to sell, and if you're a seller, potentially people that want to buy.

Number 5: Again, one of the big ones is taking action. If you're doing the first floor, you're staying patient, you are working on your credit, you're continuously educating yourself and searching for opportunities, then it just comes down to taking action. When an opportunity is presented to you, and you've done your research, you've educated yourself, and it's now time to pull the trigger. It's now time to stop overthinking it and listen to your gut at some point.

So, those are the five things that you can do to continuously build wealth in Real Estate. Again, it's being patient, working on your credit, always be searching for opportunities, continuous learning, and then finally, last but not least, taking action. 

 

July 3, 2018

When Standard Isn't Enough: 5 Lease Agreement Clauses You Need to Know

So you finally found the perfect tenants to rent your property (yay!), and now it is time for them to sign the lease agreement. Before you let the ink dry on that, it might be good to consider these few extra details. Most landlords opt to use the standard Boston lease agreement, which in most cases, suffices. But as time passes by and tenants settle into their new surroundings, you may find that their habits fly in the face of what you had originally intended for your property. Hanging laundry on the porch? Not so good for curb appeal. What then can you do to avoid having these potential conversations once the lease has been signed, sealed, and delivered?

On the whole, our approach is to be proactive, rather than retroactive. We talked about 5 key lease addendum clauses that every landlord should consider in an earlier post, but here are 5 more items you can make explicit to your tenants about how to (peacefully) inhabit your rental.

  1. Basements: To Store or Not? – Depending on your preference as a landlord, you may choose to allow your tenants to use the basement as storage space. In that case, be clear about the space that they are allotted by designating bins or shelving for each respective tenant’s use. Remind your tenants to keep these areas clean and free of clutter, particularly if they are near access points for utilities. What is more, tenants should respect each other and contain their belongings in their own space.
  2. Pets and Pet-Sitting – Many standard leases make some mention of a tenant’s pet ownership i.e. type of pet, size, registrations, and vaccinations. But something to consider adding to the lease would be a specific statement about pet-sitting. While this may not seem like a big deal, think about it from a legal standpoint. Say one tenant’s friend’s pooch is an absolute love-bug and you are totally fine with it, but what do you do if the tenant brings around a less friendly or larger animal? Avoid any confusion and potential damage by letting your tenants know your stance on pet-sitting g. absolutely no or yes, with conditions, etc., for their sake and those around them. Give as much detail as you can, and you’ll never have to worry about your tenant’s pets or them sitting again.
  3. Rent Payment: All for One, One for All – This is always a good sentiment from The Three Musketeers to keep in mind when dealing with tenant groups. What do we mean? Well, let’s say for example you decide to rent an apartment to a group of 3 friends for the price of $2100 per month. They, in turn, ask if you would accept 3 checks in the amount of $700 from each of them. Same thing, right? Actually, no. It can be far more difficult to receive and track payment from 3 separate sources that are consistent AND on time. The same goes for the couple that (unfortunately) splits up partway through the lease, and one of them decides not to pay his/her share of the rent. Skip the hassle and headaches by letting your tenants know that one rent payment is expected from all of them, as it is one lease agreement that they will sign.
  4. Subleasing aka Subletting – Your tenants may find themselves with an extra room or an extended period of time when they won’t be living in your rental property. In times like these, they may turn to subleasing (leasing the rental to a third party/subtenant) to fill these voids. Additionally, services like Airbnb present tenants with attractive ways to pay their rent and earn extra income, especially when they can’t live in the space themselves. Definitely address this in your lease addendum, particularly whether you will allow it, and under what circumstances.
  5. Renter’s Insurance – We typically recommend that our tenants obtain this additional policy to help protect them against any loss of personal belongings that may occur in the apartment i.e. theft, water damage, fire. If tenants don’t have this type of insurance and the worst case scenario happens, they may look to you for reimbursement of the items lost. Even if you don’t believe they would, encourage them to get renter’s insurance anyway because it really can help to smooth the transition from a terrible event to normal life. Most major insurance companies offer this type of coverage, and some even bundle it with auto insurance for fewer complications.

 While this list is not exhaustive, it is a good place to begin, regardless of your experience as a landlord. If you feel like you don’t have the skills or the language to draft a lease addendum, reach out to a lawyer and have them help you get it done. At the end of the day, adding these types of clauses to your standard lease agreements will make your life easier when speaking with your tenants, and save you from (some) awkward conversations.

July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

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You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates
Aug. 21, 2012

A Few Quick Tips For Boston's Multi-family Home Buyers

Buying a single-family home is about personal preference and necessity more than anything else. You buy based on what you like and what you and your family have a need for. The typical multifamily investor is not concerned with personal preference, but more about the return on investment the property will produce. Cash flow investors consider what the property cost versus what the property can produce in rental income. If you are new to multifamily investing, here is a quick overview of what your average investor considers before making the commitment to purchase.

Evaluate Your Rental Income:

The amount of income you can generate from a particular property should be one of your primary concerns. Whether you are purchasing a 2 family home or a 20 unit apartment building, the total rental income that the property can produce will be a major factor in how that property matches up to others you’ve seen. You will want to have a clear understanding of market rents in your area and if possible, the specific rental history for the property you are buying.

 

Evaluate Your Rental Expense:

Understanding the expenses of a prospective property is just as important as your knowledge of the income being produced. Your property may be generating a terrific amount of income but actually losing money, due to operating costs that are out of control. When evaluating properties to purchase take note of the operating expenses of each and how they compare to other properties. Insurance, property taxes, utilities, and general maintenance costs are some of the expense items you should become familiar with. You will also want to know whether the utilities are shared throughout the home or if the tenants are responsible for paying their own.

Remember It’s A Business:

The income property business can be a time consuming, but ultimately a very rewarding venture. Whether you plan to buy an income property as an investment or as your primary residence, it is important to recognize that you will be running a business. Tenants, passive income, rental expenses, and certain tax issues are among the concerns of multi-family owners. You should become familiar with your responsibilities as a landlord and business owner if you want your rental business to succeed. Like any business, the effort you put in and the knowledge you obtain will ultimately determine the success you achieve.

Aug. 18, 2012

Couple Tips For Boston's Multi-Family Home Seller

Knowing the true condition of your investment property can help you make an accurate evaluation of your property’s worth. Home inspections are traditionally done by the buyer once a sales contract is in place, but can also be done by the seller before the property is listed. A professional home inspection can allow the seller to identify and fix any problems before the home is under contract.

Often there certain repairs that may be missed by a homeowner but brought to light during a professional home inspection. There are also some cases where repairs or upgrades must be done according to local laws. This is especially true when dealing with Boston’s older stock of multi-family homes and the city’s landlord-tenant laws, which are always changing. A good home inspector will help you discover these repairs and avoid any them from slowing down or breaking the sale.

It’s always better to know the true condition of your home prior to determining your listing price. If a pre-listing inspection is not done, and an issue arises during a buyer inspection, it can put the sale on hold or at risk if the buyer determines it's of significance. By taking a proactive approach and getting an inspection, you can identify and make any repairs ahead of time, saving yourself a headache and possibly preventing a qualified buyer from walking away from a contract. You will also make a better first impression with buyers when you have the property in top shape prior to their visiting.

Though making repairs may sometimes seem like an unnecessary expense, these repairs, especially to the kitchens and bathrooms can really help you increase your selling price as well as assist in the speed of the sale. You may be one of many sellers that are very familiar with the needed repairs in their property but have chosen to avoid them for various reasons. Once you've made the decision to sell, you can no longer afford to put off these chores.

Take your home inspection report combined with your knowledge of the property, and create a written list of what repairs must be done vs. those that could be done. Preference should obviously be taken to those repairs that must be done and only once those improvements have been made should you consider any other work. Your Realtor can also help you uncover quick and inexpensive improvements that could be done before the home is listed and may also be able to put you in contact with good local contractors.

Not every home needs to be in mint condition to sell, but many times these small improvements will help you justify a higher asking price and gain an edge over the competition. If you are assuming at least one or more units will be owner-occupied, be sure that that particular unit is in “move-in condition”. For many buyers, your multi-family home will be there primary residence as well as an investment. They will look closely at the unit where they are to live and you will want them to like what they see. Buyers will also assume that the others rental units will be in similar condition to the “owner unit”.

Interested in Selling your Property? Just want to know what it's worth? For a no-obligation market analysis, call 617-297-8641 or email Willie@MandrellCo.com

Aug. 17, 2012

Another Great Quincy 2-Family Cash Flow Property

 

Stunning renovations were done in this classic 2-family charmer. The attic and basement have both converted to terrific living space and both areas are private to the owners! Gleaming hardwood floors, original moldings, and two working fireplaces are just some of the features. This house sits on a beautiful .25 acre lot and has a nice single-family feel to it. The owner's unit has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and both living and dining rooms ...with a total of over 2,000 square feet! A 2-car garage, coin-op laundry machines, and additional storage in the basement are just some of the extra features included with this home. To view more photos visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNK6jExOUp0

 

For a sneak peak call Willie Mandrell 617-297-8641 or email Willie@MandrellCo.com

Aug. 8, 2012

Couple Great Multi-family Homes Right Outside Boston!

Here are a couple great multi-family deals a short way from Boston. Take a look! 

 

159 Independence Ave, Quincy, MA 02169  $399,000

Nicely updated 2-family home waiting for a new owner. Minutes to Quincy Center, shops in Braintree/South Shore Plaza. Off Street Parking for 4. House on 230 Bus Line. 1 Minute from 93 N/S & Rte3. Private backyard. 1st-floor tenant paying $1,300. Upper 3 bedroom unit for the owner! Washer/dryer hookups in basement. New hot water tanks and gas furnaces. Hardwood flooring throughout. All new vinyl windows. Updated kitchens/baths. Don't miss out on this one! Multi-family prices and rents are headed upward! 

 

 

 

1125 Chestnut Street, Newton MA, 02464  $789,000

Very rare chance to own a multi-family like this in Newton! Great opportunity for owner-occupant or investor. Over $5,000 in total rents collected every month with a strong rental history! This is a very well cared for property with coin-op laundry and plenty of off-street parking. House sits on a large corner lot and allows easy access to public transportation and the center of town. The multi-family market is hot and rents are on the rise. Don't miss out!

 

 

Have questions? Interested in scheduling a showing? Call Willie Mandrell at 617-297-8641 

July 31, 2012

Now is the Time to Buy a Boston Rental Home

Boston LandlordIf you’ve been thinking about buying your first home or considering an investment in Real Estate, now may be a good time to purchase a local multi-family home. With depressed Real Estate prices, historically low mortgage rates, and an increased demand for rental units, the current Real Estate market has created a perfect storm for new landlords.
 
Over the last year, the Boston rental market has experienced a huge jump in demand. Boston landlords are achieving higher rents, while also experiencing less vacancy time. According to MLS Pin, at this time last year, the average Boston apartment in was renting for $2,232 vs. a current day asking price of $2,679. That’s a $447 difference and nearly a 20% increase. The number of days apartment rentals are staying vacant has also been cut down significantly. Our current average rental unit DOM (days on market) is approximately 41 days, compared to 58 days this time last year. Not only are Boston rentals bringing in more income, but they are bringing in tenants on an average of 17 days sooner.
 
I regularly speak with many would-be buyers that are sitting on the sidelines in this great buyers market. These buyers seem to be waiting for national headlines to tell them that it’s O.K. to buy a home again. Savvy buyers and investors understand that Real Estate trends, and therefore values, are local in nature and not necessarily affected by what happens on the national stage. Make sure you are one of these buyers and educate yourself on what’s happening locally. For income producing property you also want to look at the cash flow being produced. Stronger rents typically mean stronger cash flow and therefore stronger home values.
 
When you see rents on the rise and DOM slimming down, combined with the fact Boston has always been a great place to live, it’s hard to produce a good reason why now wouldn’t be a great time to be a local landlord.
 
July 31, 2012

Buying Investment Property In A College Town

BostonRealtor.com asked me to contribute to a couple of articles they were writing about investing in neighborhoods with big college crowds. They were looking for Realtors in a few different cities to write about their experience dealing with investors of college apartments. Below are a few of the questions they asked along with my responses. 
 
1) Have you had a client who is an investor buy in your market because of the potential renters from the university?
Absolutely. Anyone who knows Boston knows this is a huge college town. From Harvard and Northeastern to BC and BU…we have some of the best, if not the best schools in the country. With this many colleges, we will always have a high demand for apartment rentals and many investors understand this. They know that you can charge a premium for apartments in many centrally located areas of Boston. Students aren’t going to stop coming to school here, so there will always be a great demand for housing. 
 
2) Have you sold a home for a client to an investor who intended to rent the property to students?
Yes. The buyer didn’t specifically say that he intended to, but there was no need. We have a few areas of the city that are notorious for college rentals. There are so many college students in these particular areas that he wouldn’t have a choice but to rent to them.
 
3) Have you had any clients who are parents that brought a property for their college student to live in with roommates?
Yes. I’ve had parents of students get frustrated with the huge price tag on some of the rentals here and found that it made more sense to buy a condo for their children. Most recently, I worked with a Boston University student and her parents who purchased a 2-bedroom condo in South Boston. She was starting her freshman year and had a brother two years behind her in school. He knew he would be applying to several schools in Boston when he finished high school. Their parents figured rather than paying for 8 total years of campus residence or dealing with increasing rents, they would buy and the kids could share it while they were in school. The older sister is currently living with a couple of roommates until her brother makes his way to Boston. The rent they are receiving from the roommates off-set a good portion of the mortgage expense. I think this was an excellent move for their particular situation. 
 
4) Any other thoughts on your market as a place for investors to buy because of the universities there?
Boston is a great city and our colleges aren’t going anywhere. If you’re looking for a great buy and hold investment, purchasing a multi-family home here is a great choice. You don’t necessarily need to be next door to one of the schools. We have a terrific public transportation system and you can be almost anywhere within 30 minutes. I would suggest buyers have a long-term timeline to justify the premium they are going to pay for these buildings. Potential buyers also need to have their financing lined up and be ready to make a move. These properties don’t become available on a regular basis, so to catch a deal you have to do your homework and be ready to make a move when the opportunity presents itself. Boston also has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the country and our schools have a lot to do with that.