After 2 Years of Inaction, FINALLY Made the Plunge in Boston

20 Replies

I don't normally create these kinds of posts / discussions in any segment of my life, but I feel like something as big as real estate investing with how frustratingly impossible it can appear at times, warranted one. 

What first attracted me to real estate investing, like many, came when shopping for my first home in Boston. My girlfriend at the time and I ended up getting a 950 sq. ft. condo just outside the city in Medford where we live with our dog and two cats. Once the whole process was completed, I became obsessed. I read every book I could get my hands on and listened to the BP Podcast constantly while on the train, driving, cooking, etc. I had three big problems when starting out...

1) Money. Real estate in Boston is EXPENSIVE. My condo in Medford was listed at $299,000, and the only reason we were able to secure it was by bidding $332,000 and waiving our inspection contingency. "Competitive" here would be an understatement. Clearly. There are very few affordable properties in the Boston area, especially when taking into consideration the fact that I needed 20-25% to put down.

2) Knowledge. I didn't know **** about rehabbing, construction, none of that. Everything I've ever learned in my life was pretty much self taught, so I had no pre-existing skills when it came to remodeling or repairing a property.

3) Fear. Nothing was as big a roadblock as my fear. The usual things would continue pinging me like going broke buying something I couldn't afford, what to do if I got a ****** tenant, never having enough time, etc. 

Finally I decided that I was going to start making calls, getting my old "team" ready and informed of my plans (lawyer, agent, loan officer) and kept shopping every day. What I ended up finding was a tiny 450 sq. ft. place just south of the city in Dorchester, about a 5 minute walk to the train. The neighborhood is roughly a B-, still has a little ways to go but surrounded by great places to eat, public transit, parks, and the highway. The only work the unit needed was a new bathroom, some paint, new outlets, things like that... the bathroom obviously being the biggest thing to tackle. Kitchen was already updated, it had new windows, new roof (and roof deck), pretty good water heater, and hardwood floors. It was listed at $195k, with a lot of interest, mostly from small families or single parents. So after putting in a lower bid + higher down payment, we ended up later negotiating and closing the deal at $197k with 25% down. Most of the money came from a Roth IRA account I cleared out, and money I had been diligently saving up over the last two years. I own a small production company with a partner, so we took on some more work this year and I also freelanced a little more than usual to bring in some side income as well. The closing was originally set for the beginning of August, but due to a complication with the HOA docs and delayed transfer of those papers, we didn't close until 8/28, missing the big September renter rush in Boston.

The bathroom ended up taking a couple weeks. Like I said... learned as I went along :) After about a month on the market, I just secured a tenant as of yesterday for a 10/15 move in date. We took a small haircut on the rental price due to the fact that we missed September and were looking for either a 10/1 or 11/1 lease, but I'm happy we found a great tenant. The rent is $1500/mo. which gives us a cashflow number of about $450 every month. My plan is to set aside the first few months worth of rent into an "emergency and vacancy" fund to account for any unexpected expenses and turnover. Because this lease will end 8/31 of next year, we'll have the opportunity to attract a much better pool of renters and also a rental price of somewhere between $1600-1700/mo. Yes, it's somewhat of a large amount of capital tied into one unit, but I plan to take a short break and collect myself after this whole process and take my time finding a great opportunity the next go around. While property appreciation was never part of my equation, here in Boston it's almost a certainty that I will get some great equity out of this place in the future at some point. With tons of schools here, and the proximity of this unit to downtown, rental rates will only creep up year after year. So in the end, even though it's not the deal of the century, it got my feet wet and I learned a lot, so it was well worth it in my opinion.

For those curious, I posted some of the before / after pictures of the unit and of the bathroom to give you a sense of what someone with no experience and almost no skills can do if you just say, "**** it."



looks good! Great job for your first rental! Hopefully everything will go smoothly with the tenant this year. What are your long term goals for REI? One property a year aquisition on the side or are you looking to eventually live off the cash flow and be a full time investor?

Hey, I know that building! I think I sold the unit below yours a few years ago. Congrats!


@Christian Nachtrieb Congrats!  Especially on taking action in such a tough market.

If I may offer one suggestion for future real estate photography, put the toilet seat down!

Originally posted by @Kalyanii Kennedy :

looks good! Great job for your first rental! Hopefully everything will go smoothly with the tenant this year. What are your long term goals for REI? One property a year aquisition on the side or are you looking to eventually live off the cash flow and be a full time investor?

I'm actually not 100% on what my long term goal is. This was the band-aid step, just rip it off and get started. I suppose the next thing I'll think about is what are my short-term and medium-term goals, but I think the idea of being able to live off the cashflow alone would be amazing.

Congrats on your first deal! What are the HOA fees?

Congratulations @Christian Nachtrieb! As everyone else has been saying, what you have accomplished is an impressive feat! 

@Christian Nachtrieb congrats! this is a solid deal and proves that you can still buy around boston and get some cash flow

Nice work, Christian. Beautiful place. Love your approach & attitude. Will be taking my first step soon as well. Cheers.

Meant to ask...How did you find the deal?

Originally posted by @Kyle Schlosser :

Meant to ask...How did you find the deal?

 Hey Kyle,

This one I actually found on MLS. Surprising for Boston.

Dorchester is much competitive city for real estate deals now, thats for sure. So many people got rich around 1990s boom in that area. Also close proximity to the city made it just matter of time to make it good investment; probably brave souls needs to ignore daily violence :)

You did great renovation inside, looking for the pictures! Love them. Good luck to you!

Looks great! Congratulations! 

Congrats, what a good find! Pretty amazing you were able to snag it off MLS, too

@Haley M. Yea absolutely. I didn't have much faith but kept looking anyway. My next goal is to try and find some off-market deals.

@Christian Nachtrieb That is my goal as well, competing with the all-cash feeding frenzy on MLS deals isn't getting me where I want to be. I'm looking into doing a direct mail campaign soon.

@Christian Nachtrieb

Nice pics and thanks for sharing. Great job taking action.

@Haley M.

Sounds like you are ready to start your journey to finding off-market deals to buy real estate at a discount :) If you want any help with a plan, templates, scripts on how to talk to sellers, or a checklist on things you need to prep before starting your campaign, feel free to holler and I'd be glad to help.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here