Newbie from St. Louis

21 Replies

Hi All!

My name is Ciara and I’m an occupational therapist and single mom of a four year old boy, living in St. Louis, MO. I have one deal under my belt which I just closed on a few weeks ago (duplex in south city!).

I have been interested in real estate for a long time as I can remember wanting to “flip houses” when I was a young girl. That continued through my teens and young twenties and I’d always say how I wanted to marry a man who wants to do the same so we can have a family business and not work for “the man.” Life doesn’t always go as planned and I had a detour when I had my son in 2013. However, I finished grad school in Dec. 2016 at the age of 29 (Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, any alums?!) and have been able to use that as a source of income to save for investments. Fast forward to fall 2017, I discovered Bigger Pockets and started getting some motivation and direction to begin my RE journey. 

I still remain interested in fix and flipping, but my ultimate goal is more rooted in long-term buy and holds, likely via small multi family units.  That passive income is what I’m longing for. I grew up from poor beginnings and without any kind of travel opportunity, so I am ultimately working toward financial freedom so that my son and I are able to travel. That is my “big why,” if you will. 

I’m very interested in networking and meeting more people in the RE investing world! Looking forward to meeting y’all!

-Ciara

@Ciara Coleman Congratulations on buying your first property! I'm also a graduate of Wash U (undergrad and grad school). I'm now living in the California Bay Area, but planning to invest in St. Louis. I recently began working with a great real estate agent, and I'm looking primarily for single family homes and maybe a duplex in South City. Like you, I'm looking primarily for passive income from buy-and-hold rentals. 

Is the duplex you bought a fixer-upper or relatively turnkey? I'm working on trying to find a lender who can do Homestyle renovation loans so I have the option of updating kitchens/bathrooms when needed. 

Nice to meet you all! Thanks for the encouragement!

Michelle—

My property is a bit of a fixer upper. The downstairs unit is occupied by a tenant right now and is in decent condition.  The upstairs is where my son and I will be living and definitely was in need of some work. I’m going to end up probably putting about $12k into it. We looked for a while for a place that would work for us, since we will be living in the property. I’d love to go and collect a new property for 3.5% down every year, but it’s  just too much with my work schedule and having my son, so i was a bit picky with this first place because I wanted a place we could make into something we could enjoy living in. The money mostly went into new flooring, installing an in-unit washer and dryer, tuckpointing the brick I exposed, tearing down a wall between the living room and kitchen, and updating the kitchen. 

WHEn you say a homestyle reno loan, do you mean like a 203k? Or some other kind of loan?

PS awesome to meet a fellow Wash U’er! (Besides Josh of course lol). What did you get your degree in?

Originally posted by @Ciara Coleman :

Hi All!

My name is Ciara and I’m an occupational therapist and single mom of a four year old boy, living in St. Louis, MO. I have one deal under my belt which I just closed on a few weeks ago (duplex in south city!).

I have been interested in real estate for a long time as I can remember wanting to “flip houses” when I was a young girl. That continued through my teens and young twenties and I’d always say how I wanted to marry a man who wants to do the same so we can have a family business and not work for “the man.” Life doesn’t always go as planned and I had a detour when I had my son in 2013. However, I finished grad school in Dec. 2016 at the age of 29 (Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, any alums?!) and have been able to use that as a source of income to save for investments. Fast forward to fall 2017, I discovered Bigger Pockets and started getting some motivation and direction to begin my RE journey. 

I still remain interested in fix and flipping, but my ultimate goal is more rooted in long-term buy and holds, likely via small multi family units.  That passive income is what I’m longing for. I grew up from poor beginnings and without any kind of travel opportunity, so I am ultimately working toward financial freedom so that my son and I are able to travel. That is my “big why,” if you will. 

I’m very interested in networking and meeting more people in the RE investing world! Looking forward to meeting y’all!

-Ciara

 Hello and welcome! Best of luck to you!

Welcome to BP @Ciara Coleman !! I’m from STL living in Albuquerque, NM at the moment, but I do all my investing back home. Happy to see that you’re getting things going, and a duplex in South City isn’t a bad place to start! I’m on the hunt for my next property which might be a flip actually.

@Ciara Coleman It definitely makes sense that it would be difficult to move around a lot with work and a young son. Congratulations again on getting started. It sounds like you were able to do a lot with $12,000. Did you hire a general contractor, or hire specialists and manage the project yourself? If I end up doing renovations, I'll definitely need to hire a general contractor, and I haven't started the process of finding one yet.

The homestyle renovation loan is similar, but a bit different from a 203k loan. Unlike the 203k loan, which is only available to owners who plan to live in the property themselves, a Homestyle loan will finance investor owned, but not occupied, single family homes (nothing bigger, though). I think I got a lead on finding a lender for this type of loan today, but I have a more in depth conversation scheduled for Friday, so I'll know more then. If it works out, and if it would be helpful, I'd be happy to let you know more about the lender.

My degree is in Psychology. I'm mostly in research, but I also do some clinical work. I wasn't in the school of medicine, but I know someone who graduated a few years ago from OT at Wash U who had a great experience in the program as well.

@Michelle Eisenberg very nice you know someone from the program! May have been one of my classmates lol. The program was amazing. They actually made me my own special part time program when I found out I was pregnant. I’m grateful! 

Definitely let me know what you find out about that loan. I’d be interested to know. I originally was just looking to hire a handy man to do a lot of it in order to save money, but the best bid I got was from a GC so I ended up going that route. It’s most certainly been a learning experience lol.  Always valuable, though. I will say I definitely understand why so many investors start out doing more work themselves and then peel back from it. I have to go try to clean up all the dust off the walls and floor from the plaster and tuckpointing tomorrow when I get off work so they can lay the floors, say a prayer for me (lol)

@Ciara Coleman Thanks. I'm really looking towards the county. The City offers a few deals, but obviously you have to be a little careful, so the county has the abundance of deals. I'm hoping to find something towards mid-town that I can BRRRR so I can eventually live in it when I move back to STL.

If you need recommendations on GC/handyman and Realtor...I have a team that I'm really happy with.

Hi @Ciara Coleman and welcome to BiggerPockets!

Congratulations on acquiring your first property!  Great job!

You are correct when you say "life doesn't always go as planned..." but I admire your determination and your focus to your real estate plan in life.  You are actually on the right track by being a member of BiggerPockets.

Take advantage of all the free resources available to you (blogs, podcast, articles) on here, and network with more experienced investors on here and be a sponge.  Soak up all the valuable information they are disclosing to you.

Also, you can join a local REI club in your area to get more insight and information from investors.

Congratulations and I wish you the best in your real estate investing career.  You are not alone in your real estate ambition.  We are happy to help in any way we can.

@Jill DeWit thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I truly appreciate it. I am loving the abundance of information I've found from BP so far. And I definitely need to check into finding a local REI soon. All great tips!

@Ciara Coleman I found out more about Homestyle Renovation loans yesterday. Here's what I found out. Feel free to send me a private message if you'd like to know who I spoke with. I don't know whether I'll end up using this option, but I'm really glad to know that it exists.

The rates are higher than for conventional mortgages, but down payments can be as low as 15%. For investors, you can only finance a single family home. For owner-occupied, it can finance up to a four-plex.

With this type of loan, renovations cannot exceed 75% of sales price + renovation, or the appraised value, whichever is lower. That means that if a property is priced very low, it can be hard to get enough money for the extensive renovations that would be needed. On the other hand, it can fund moderate renovations, it seems.

It allows for four draws to pay contractors, 10% draw in the beginning, 2 progress draws, and a final draw after the final inspection. You can only have up to 3 contractors named for the project, so it pretty much requires having a general contractor. The general contractor then communicates directly with the bank to get the draws.

I was told that it's typical for the loan to be able to close within 30-45 days, so slightly longer than with conventional mortgages. The interest rate on the loan also varies slightly depending on how much time you budget for renovations (45, 90, or 180 days). The loan also can't be refinanced until 6 months following the renovation completion date. 

Originally posted by @Ciara Coleman :

Hi All!

My name is Ciara and I’m an occupational therapist and single mom of a four year old boy, living in St. Louis, MO. I have one deal under my belt which I just closed on a few weeks ago (duplex in south city!).

I have been interested in real estate for a long time as I can remember wanting to “flip houses” when I was a young girl. That continued through my teens and young twenties and I’d always say how I wanted to marry a man who wants to do the same so we can have a family business and not work for “the man.” Life doesn’t always go as planned and I had a detour when I had my son in 2013. However, I finished grad school in Dec. 2016 at the age of 29 (Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, any alums?!) and have been able to use that as a source of income to save for investments. Fast forward to fall 2017, I discovered Bigger Pockets and started getting some motivation and direction to begin my RE journey. 

I still remain interested in fix and flipping, but my ultimate goal is more rooted in long-term buy and holds, likely via small multi family units.  That passive income is what I’m longing for. I grew up from poor beginnings and without any kind of travel opportunity, so I am ultimately working toward financial freedom so that my son and I are able to travel. That is my “big why,” if you will. 

I’m very interested in networking and meeting more people in the RE investing world! Looking forward to meeting y’all!

-Ciara

 Welcome to the site Ciara.

Hi Ciara! I'm a newbie investor in St. Louis as well. I'm hoping to purchase my first duplex/multifamily in south city as a "house hack" for starters. Currently I'm looking into lending and am considering an FHA but need to talk to some lenders for options. May I asked how you decided your first duplex?

I graduated from Missouri S&T in with my Mechanical Engineering degree. Now I'm working in St. Louis and trying to save for my first deal. After some experience with my first deal I hope to grow a decent rental portfolio.

Good Luck with your Duplex!


@Michael May I purchased a duplex last summer that I'm house hacking in princeton heights area of South City.  I think it has pretty good numbers and am very happy with the area and purchase overall.  Rent $1500 and purchase price $135,000.  Outdated but well maintained, minimal repairs done so far.

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