Looking buy and hold outside of NYC

7 Replies

Hello BiggerPockets!

I am very interested in the Buy and Hold strategy in real estate and was wondering if it is a bad idea to invest 3-4 hours outside your home? 

I bought my first home (3 family home in Brooklyn NY) in March 2015 and live on the 3rd floor with the two other units rented out. The rental covers all the mortgage/tax/insurance. I do not have enough capital for a investment property in NJ/NYC.

Is Syracuse,NY a good area to buy rental properties? and if anyone is familiar with Syracuse, is vacancy and tenants that do not pay a big issue?

A little bit about myself, I am an Auditor in the financial services industry and fell in love with real estate after purchasing my first home and becoming a landlord.

Thank you very much for all the help!

To be honest, 3-4 hours might as well be 10-20 hours away.

Think about when you bought your current 3 plex. When you first rented it out, how many times did you have to pop downstairs to answer a question, turn a little knob, flip a breaker, handle something minimal and minor? Probably often. If that little occurrence happens 3-4 hours away - its a whole day, and you'll be furious! "I drove all the way here for THAT?"

So in the end, you will find yourself a local handyman who can visit and handle the little stuff. Well that, my friend, becomes remote land lording. You could just as easily do that in Virginia, Texas, heck - even Honolulu!

My suggestion is to find a property within an hour of you. Your only landlord experience is literally downstairs. I understand the capital constraints, but find something in Yonkers, White Plains, Dobbs Ferry (nice area for rentals right now). See how much you like it after having to drive 20/30/40 minutes for every problem before you make the leap into remote landlording.

Make no mistake - once you cross over, its just SO much fun! I just suggest you get used to having to put on more than slippers to go deal with tenants, before you make that leap.

@Eric Tsang

If you dont mind me asking, Whats was the price of that 3 family house in Brooklyn? What neighborhood? 

I current live in the East Flatbush area by Brooklyn College.

@Travis Lloyd thank you very much for your advice. You are absolutely right, I've already had multiple incidents where the tenant locked the bathroom door.

How do you find quality handymans and do you know what the average hourly rate is?

@Ricardo S. Bought it for 1.2 mill in the Bensonhurst area. The Crown Heights area close to the 4 / 5 train has very good duplexes and is a convenient commute to Manhattan.

@Eric Tsang handymen are tough to find and usually you will have to go through 2 or 3 until you find one you trust. My personal advice is when you do find one you trust - overpay him so you keep him happy. Hourly rate is all over the place, depending on where you are, and how much he can handle. A good handyman can replace a light fixture and faucet, rehang a door, and troubleshoot a boiler. A better handyman can replace blown fuses, replace boiler sensors, and just "take care of it" - as in, solve the full problem from start to finish without calling you 15 times.

Ask around in the neighborhood of your purchase, check on craigslist, look for the "no job too small" people... they're usually jacks of all trades. Depending on how large of a purchase you make, you can have him bill you hourly, maybe pay for a monthly checkup (2 hours a month?) almost like a retainer. Christmas, holidays, etc etc - send your handyman $100. One crisp bill. You'll be their favorite client.

The closest property I've ever bought for myself was 2000 miles away. There are tons of debates about whether someone should buy locally or not, so look around for those (they are long and extensive and fairly painful), but I'd say you're in the best of both worlds....close enough to the property to get to it if you need to, but returns are good.

Although I know nothing about Syracuse as a market, so can't say anything about the returns or viability, but assuming that is good, you are totally fine.

Eric,

I live in CA now but invest in the cuse. Grew up in upstate NY and went to college in Syracuse so I have some familiarity plus my wife & I have family there which is very helpful. I don't think it is a bad option for you since it is only a train ride away for a weekend check-in. It would definitely help to spend a week there just driving around with an agent to do you first deal that way and learn which neighborhoods you want to be in. To the east of SU is good for student and faculty housing, then the James street area on the north side is good for numbers but sometime spotty in neighborhoods. There are a few good towns for SFH, like Solvay, which has its own electric company but, again, the neighborhood is a bit block by block.

You might also consider Albany. I don't know too much about the area but if the market is similar it will be a few hours closer to you.

If you have specific questions, feel free to hit me up.

- will