New investor interested in Boston market

10 Replies

Hello everyone,

I'm exciting to be introducing myself after a few months of absorbing a lot of great information from the BiggerPockets forums and podcast. My name is Daren Card and I am looking to start a side hustle as a real estate investor in the near future. Sorry for the longer post, but I got excited and a bit carried away with an introduction. I sprinkled in some bold emphasis for the TL;DR crowd. 

My "real" job is in academia and I am currently located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where I just finished my Ph.D. in genetics. I'm about to begin a postdoctoral fellowship sponsored by the National Science Foundation at Harvard University so I'll be moving to the Boston area in about a year.

Given I'm moving I have been looking seriously into a house hack in Boston to jumpstart my solo investment portfolio (hopefully it grows into that). Tough market to start in but I have some hope that I can make it work after reading the forums and doing some research, and maybe others have some specific thoughts on that. Independently, some friends and I have also been talking about starting a joint real estate investment venture where we would invest wherever makes sense (Western NY and the Philadelphia areas are where we are looking currently, due only really to familiarity).

I'm just getting started and graduate school isn't lucrative, so I don't have a ton of knowledge or capital I can contribute to others at this point. However, I'm very excited to learn more and to begin networking with others as ways to help meet my goals. Moreover, I do have a data analysis skillset built up during my education that I could leverage to help others. For example, I recently played around with accounting for variation when modeling property appreciation (a simple metric that I started with). I've noticed that when most investors run models in Excel they feed in constant values for appreciation, inflation, etc. but in reality these factors vary from year to year (or even month to month). By accounting for this variation we can better understand the probability of hitting some arbitrary property appreciation level. To better illustrate this point I put together a short HTML report, so feel free to check it out at https://docs.google.com/uc?export=download&id=17-apjG-QT39GOv9dX5ZfRTHgMkfEQnJE.

I plan to post some more specific questions regarding my investment goals in Boston and elsewhere in appropriate forums. But in general, I would also welcome any interaction from experienced investors in the Boston market (or anywhere, really) and other more novice users too.

Looking forward to connecting with others and continuing to learn!

Daren Card

Thanks @Kristen Duggan , I will look into Jacob Realty. Given my budget, I'm anticipating needing to look outside the city center, which will require a commute. Or I can hit the payment to find some potential deals, but that is tricky given I'm not currently in the Boston area.

@Daren Card Welcome to BP and to Boston!

As I've said to so many others, be sure you have a good handle on landlord/tenant and fair housing laws in MA.  That will keep you out of hot water.

In general, homes south of Boston are more affordable than those inside RT 128, so look in Plymouth, Norfolk and Bristol counties for better pricing.

Those areas also have good commuter rail / MBTA service into town, which you'll need to get to Harvard. 

As for house hacking, the least expensive duplex in Cambridge is now $1.399M.  3-plexes start at $1.645M.  Or you could look to the south where you can pay about 1/3 of those amounts.

Thanks so much for the tips @Charlie MacPherson ! I think I've seem some of the same advice in your previous responses to Boston members.

The "1/3 areas" are what I'm after given my budget. I'm thinking I'll need a 3-unit to make the finances work. I've seen others discuss Brockton as a potential place to target, but maybe other areas make sense too? Lots of research to do and will have to find a good realtor to help.

@Daren Card There are sort of "two Brocktons", loosely defined by zip codes 02301 (mostly west side, much nicer place) and 02302 which is center and east.  There the homes tend to be more run down - peeling paint, sagging decks, overgrown yards.

That said, there are a ton of rentals in 02301 and they're some of the more reasonably priced units anywhere in eastern MA.

I have not seen details, but more than one person has told me that the mayor has a plan in place to help the "bad" side to start looking more like the "good" side.  My understanding is that there are low-cost loans for homeowners to rehab properties.

Also look at Plymouth, Middleboro, Taunton, Attleboro, Fall River and New Bedford.  The latter two are especially inexpensive - but have rents to match.

@Daren Card   Take a look at www.MBTA.com and scroll to the "Commuter Rail" section to get an idea of what train service looks like.

I think this is a FAR better option for getting into the city than driving, especially now that the trains have wi-fi.

One thing you might not have thought about yet is just how much fun commuting in a New England winter can be.  Nor'Easters are a real blast - literally.  You can come home with snow-packed eyebrows.  

Driving in them is enough to challenge the heartiest soul.  One knucklehead drives too fast for conditions and hits another car and within minutes, traffic is backed up to Oklahoma.  The commuter rail avoids most of these issues, though severe weather can hamper them too.

That said, it's a great place to live.  I've been here for all of my life and wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

@Charlie MacPherson I was wondering whether the trains were equipped with wifi, so I have an answer to that. Coming from car-heavy Texas I'm looking forward to using the trains in Boston. Wasn't envisioning a 1.5-2 hour commute, but I spend most of my time at work on a computer so I can just work on the train. Can't complain much about that!

And despite my 6-year hiatus in Texas, growing up near Buffalo has prepared me for the snow that I'll have to get used to again. I like the idea of avoiding driving through a blizzard though!

Regarding landlord/tenant & fair housing laws in the state, do you know of any good places online where I can explore the regulations?

@Justin Windham : Yes, it is certainly a time of transition. I didn't even mention that I'm spending a lot of the next academic year in Australia for my research, which will be awesome! Hence why I'm moving in a year and not right away, but it works out nicely for me to properly pursue an investment. Thanks so much for the well wishes!

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