Robber Baron Landlords 1
When I first read Robert Allen’s book ‘Multiple Streams of Income’, I was hooked. Real estate sounded appealing as an investment, so we decided to become landlords.
I’d done a lot of research and knew that prices were lower in a town near us so we went to have a look. There were several ‘For Sale by Owner’ signs, so we took some photos and made notes as we went.
After viewing several homes, we decided to put in an offer. The young man who owned the house was named Kevin, and he’d inherited it from his grandmother. It was going to be a private sale so we met in his living room.
He told us he planned to take the money and move to another town, following a girlfriend. It seemed like a risk to me. Taking the lump of money from selling your biggest asset wouldn’t be my advice. I had to remind myself that this was a business deal so I let it go.
We closed the deal and signed the papers.
At first I felt guilty that we were buying his family’s heritage, but I got over it.
It was the first of many things I had to ‘get over’ in the years to come.
It turned out that Kevin’s hobby was chainsaw carving and he had created an intricate statue of a dragon out of a tree stump in the yard.
As soon as we saw the Dragon, named it the Dragon House.
Mortgaging our home to buy the rental was a huge step out of our comfort zone. We were risking our family home to make an investment that might not work out. That first investment kept me up at night.
The house was old and needed more work than we realized. We spent every weekend and lots of nights during the week, ripping out walls, painting and repairing things.
The small jobs turned into a larger ones.
As we did the work, we found more things to do.
- When we replaced the windows, we discovered there was no insulation in the walls.
- When we painted the attic, we found some wiring problems. We also found asbestos in the insulation.
- We redid the bathroom and found plumbing repairs to do.
- As we peeled off wallpaper, we found another layer underneath. Other owners had simply pasted new paper on top of the old, making a thick hardened mess.
The last layer was orange and black, very retro.
We learned a lot about contractors. We bought windows from a company that offered to arrange someone to install them. They didn’t meet their own deadline and when we complained, they threw their hands up in the air and told us it was the supplier’s problem.
That’s when we put on the pressure.
We live in a small town and know a lot of people. I met with the manager and pointed out the implications of that. He could see that I was serious and their reputation was at risk. He made a few calls and the windows were delivered and installed the next week.
Sometimes you have to be the squeaky wheel.
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