As a real estate investor, I understand the importance of pro forma, income statements, balance sheets, cap rates, and other financial concerns. Although these are key metrics to evaluate, one thing that shouldn’t be left out for investors is the importance of community.
Community engagement and transformation is difficult to quantify, but people notice when you’re making a difference. So let’s discuss charity as a key indicator of real estate success.
Before you decide this post is not for you, please hear me out. Yes, I’m talking about giving, but there are some benefits for you.
I was recently listening to Earl Nightingale, and he was discussing the importance of service. He was introducing it to some and reiterating to others, explaining what you give you will then receive.
The more we offer service to others, the more we will be in high demand. This also correlates to real estate investing. No matter the community, no matter the class of unit, the service you render is the service you will receive.
Real-World Example of Serving Others
A landlord investing in a working class neighborhood (C or D class) should try to remodel the property to the lowest level of the class above. No, I’m not telling you to over-improve the property, but I am saying add something desirable that will appeal to the tenant.
By keeping service in mind, you can maintain tenants longer and have a healthier tenant-landlord relationship. Service can be something as small as faster response time to maintenance requests.
I am a huge advocate for community. One of my goals is to ensure that my rentals improve the quality of the neighborhood. This includes the type of tenants placed in units.
By making simple contributions to the community, the community makes a contribution to me. Sure, this doesn’t occur in every single instance, but it does the majority of the time.
The reciprocated contribution often happens in the form of neighbors maintaining their property. A well-maintained rental can inspire the neighbors, which creates a change in the neighborhood for the better.
Real-World Example of Contributing to the Community
Recently, we completed a rehab on a duplex that was in a neighborhood that had not quite turned the corner. The property was a few blocks away from a hospital. The duplex wasn’t in terrible condition, but it had some deferred maintenance.
The problem was a few of the neighbors’ houses had some deferred maintenance, as well. As we began to rehab our property, we noticed the neighbor started painting. Then another neighbor put up new shutters and began doing some landscaping. Then an investor bought a house to flip.
These small activities start to create a closer sense of community and pride of ownership. With all of the recent activity, the home values increased, and now we are all in a stronger equity position.
Small contributions can make a world of difference to a community. Those contributions can directly impact your bottom line, as it did with my duplex.
The Responsibility of Real Estate Investors
The word “investor,” to some, has a negative connotation. People think greedy, selfish, con-artist, and other negative associations. But we can change this depiction of investors by banding together to change communities.
When working in some blue collar neighborhoods, outsiders are not always welcomed. It is challenging to change others’ perceptions, but if you are able to do so in a positive way, then you will have greater success. Sure, this does not always happen and we do have a job to do first and foremost, but a little effort goes a long way.
Here are a few ways we try to start off on the right foot when tackling projects in challenging neighborhoods:
- Introduce ourselves and our company to the neighbors.
- Inform them we will be rehabbing a house, and if our noise becomes a bother, please let us know.
- If the ice cream truck comes around, we take the opportunity to treat the neighborhood kids.
- Ensure contractors are aware the job site is to remain as clean as possible.
- Let all of our people know to not park in spots designated to the neighbors.
- For community projects (like when we bought a school), we have an open house and serve visitors hot dogs and chips.
I’m sure this may be a slightly different approach than most, but we’ve been successful in some challenging neighborhoods by operating this way.
The Bottom Line
It’s great to have some community service projects in your portfolio or partner with a service organization to help foster change in the communities we rehab. In my opinion, charity should undoubtedly be incorporated into your business plan.
What are some of the service projects you or your company have fostered or aligned with, and how did it help the community and your business?
Share in a comment below!
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.