Advice on a St. Louis 4 family under contract

15 Replies

St. Louis investors,

I've got a 4-family property under contract in University City area of St. Louis, MO.  I'm targeting C class areas, and wanted to get the opinion of some local BP investors on the area.  My realtor, 2 property managers, and 2 contractors all told me it's a decent area (not the most desirable but not a war zone).  All the criminal activity in that neighborhood in the past 6 months consisted of larceny/burglary, with most of it not being on Ursula Avenue.  No violent crime.  The address is 1118 Ursula Avenue, University City, MO 63130.  I got some good video from my realtor, and the area looks clean and decent. Am I accurate on this being a C class area?  Thanks for your input. 

Hey @Andrew Pappas ,

Call the local police precinct and ask for a crime report for the address and the street generally. They should be able to send you a report for calls for service which you can then review.

Ask if you can speak to a patrol officer who works in that area regularly.  If you get to speak to someone, ask them specific questions about the types of people that live there, the types of crime they see, if they have problems with rental properties in the area etc.

An officer that you might speak to won't have an 'investor's mindset' so you need to be quite specific on the types of questions you ask him/her.  Ask if they would be comfortable living there themselves.

I also see on the map that there are several churches - The Gate and Mt. Gideon maybe call them and ask about the area.

Finally, if you are really feeling bold do some white pages lookups for who lives on that street, find some phone numbers and call the neighbors to ask how things are.

Good luck!

@Andrew Pappas

Just had another idea.  Check out the airbnb listings nearby.  There are some within a few blocks and they all have good reviews.  The reviewers dont mention anything about it being a bad area.

https://www.airbnb.com/s/1118-Ursula-Avenue--University-City--MO-63130--USA/homes?refinement_paths%5B%5D=%2Fhomes&place_id=ChIJCxY3ZFs134cRrdWusAZMavM&query=1118%20Ursula%20Avenue%2C%20University%20City%2C%20MO%2063130%2C%20USA&allow_override%5B%5D=&map_toggle=true&s_tag=f5udVvTq

@Andrew Pappas

Another idea came to me.  Look at zillow, there are quite a few units for rent nearby.  Call the numbers for the leasing office s and ask about the area, ask about how their experience is getting and retaining good tenants.  That will serve as another data point in addition to the other ideas I provided.

https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/38.672942,-90.300445,38.662421,-90.31583_rect/16_zm/1_fr/

Josh,  great ideas.  I will give them a try.  I did call the police department, and they directed me to a city web site that lists all the crimes by neighborhood and street in the past 6 months.  That neighborhood had all burglary and larceny incidents at a bit higher rate than other areas of University City, with relatively few of those occurring on Ursula ave.  Thanks for the input!

My lender just informed me the detached garage is partially in a flood zone and requires flood insurance. The seller apparently didn’t know because he doesn’t have insurance on the property. The annual premium is only about $800, and a price reduction can offset that. My concern is the risk that the property gets rezoned to a flood zone. Is this a red flag to back out?

Hey

@Andrew Pappas , I recently moved to St. Louis and actually stayed a few blocks down from there in an airbnb when I first moved here. It's definitely a C area. I wouldn't expect any appreciation but the numbers probably work pretty good for a rental. It does get real bad real fast the further north and east you go.

Looking at the FEMA map, the garage is in the Zone AE which requires flood insurance from my understanding, rest of the building is still in the flood zone, not as bad as the AE zone... I personally try to stay away from flood zones.. FEMA can at anytime change maps that can affect your pocket significantly...

https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search#searchresultsanchor

Originally posted by @Grandon Brimley :

Hey

@Andrew Pappas, I recently moved to St. Louis and actually stayed a few blocks down from there in an airbnb when I first moved here. It's definitely a C area. I wouldn't expect any appreciation but the numbers probably work pretty good for a rental. It does get real bad real fast the further north and east you go.

 Yeah that’s what I’ve heard.  Do you know if the Ursula property is in the rough area?

Personally, I would avoid floodplains altogether. Most residential properties in the city are well out of FEMA flood zones except in places like this property that abut the River Des Peres which is the spillway for the city sewer system. There are so many other areas nearby that are at less risk of being re-drawn into a flood zone that it seems simpler to just avoid them altogether IMO. $800 per year is a big expense. Unless you're getting a screaming deal such that the extra $67/month won't put a dent in your return, I would just move on and look for another one.

I focus on south city nearer to "the hill" which is relatively high ground. If we ever get flooded out down here, the region will have much more serious issues than FEMA coming along to re-draw their boundaries!

Does anyone see this area in the path of progress? It’s Ursula avenue just north of Olive. Got a good discount to make the cash flow work even if the property gets rezoned into a flood zone

So only the garage is in a flood zone, which requires about $540 a year in insurance. The numbers are still really good at the price I got. FEMA just reviewed it and confirmed the zone boundaries. I plan to improve and stabilize it, increase rents, get some cash flow, then sell for a little profit in a year or so if the market supports it