Diary of 1st Buy and Hold - Boston Suburbs

3 Replies

Just wanted to share the buy-and-hold that has served as my accidental entry into real estate investing. I consider it an ongoing project, as there are additional renovations and hopefully even major changes in the future. We're in the suburban Boston market, ~25 miles from the city. Cash flows aren't what they are in other parts of the country, but they exist, and the market is very stable. 

Property: 3 family, built ~1880. 

Apartment 1: 1200SF, 2 bed, 1 bath. 

Apartment 2: 800 SF, 2 bed, 1 bath. 

Apartment 3: 550 SF: 1 bed, 1 bath. 

It had been on market for several months, listed at $375,000. Purchase price $310,000 - conventional financing. Initial rents were $1000/850/700 = $2550. It was occupied with long term tenants at will, but I had it delivered vacant at closing. Spent 10k up front that was mostly cosmetic - painting, lighting, etc, but also included renovating Apt 2 bathroom. Changed out all water fixtures to low flow, and made some major insulation improvements that were 90% subsidized by MassSave. Fully rented for start of 3rd month after closing. I would like to have done this faster, but I did all the work myself. 

Notable CapEx in the 6 years are: Replacement roof, replacement boiler for Apt 2 (converted oil to gas - the boiler we replaced was from the 1940s!), ; replace entry porch for Apt 3.

Maintenance cost for 6 years ~ 15k. 

Today, the rents are 1250/1150/950 = $3350, and the FMV is ~$400,000.

The biggest difficulty is working with the odd layouts that were designed prior to modern kitchens or heating systems (we actually have the remnants of a coal-fired heating system still). For example, I'd like to upgrade kitchen countertops, but it is penny-wise pound foolish when I'll inevitably need a major kitchen design overhaul that will provide a suitable layout for a modern setup with disposal/dishwasher/microwave and sufficient space. 

Ideally I'd like the next step to be converting the property to 5 one bedroom apartments, without making any change to the footprint of the house. This would requires a special permit for zoning relief, because multi-family is a prohibited use in my zoning district. However, if approved, it would increase cash flow to ~5000/month, increase appraised value, and allow me to manage exclusively one bedroom apartments - which I strongly prefer to manage over multiple bedroom. 

Nice work! The numbers look great.

I am curious how you plan to change the building to 5 1-bedrooms without changing the layout- where and how would you add 2 extra bathrooms if layout stays the same?

Thank you @Patsy Waldron

I meant exterior footprint would remain unchanged. Interior has some flexibility. Apt 1(first floor) is oversized and has an extra room - the apartment could fairly easily be split down the middle. Apt 2 (second floor) has a really interesting space. Since the first floor of the house is larger than the second, it has ~400 SF of attic space at the same grade as the second floor. That attic space could provide enough additional living area to fit two 1-bedroom apartments upstairs. All subject to zoning approval, of course

Ah, okay! Sounds like an interesting building, for sure! I hope the zoning committee approves your plans. You would essentially double the cash flow with the change! Best of luck.

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