Excited Newbie from Rhode Island

19 Replies

Hello Bigger Pockets community,

My name is Chelsie Ritarossi and I am looking to acquire my first real estate investment property! I am a born and breed Rhode Islander, currently working as a Marketing Manager with strong ambitions to be financially free before I am 35 (currently 26). To me, being financially free would to be able to work a more flexible schedule, be on the boat on days when I would typically be at work or on the mountain on mid-week powder days! Curiosity on ways to invest my money triggered my education on real estate investing. 

I have been in research mode with my investment partner for the past few months, making sure that we were gathering as much knowledge to decide on which path we wanted to start with. I live in Rhode Island and, although it is a bit of an expensive and tough market, I want to have my first property near me so I can learn as much as possible.

After doing some research we are looking to invest in one of the following areas in Rhode Island:

1. Providence/Pawtucket/East Providence Area

2. Cranston/Warwick Area

3. Coventry/West Warwick Area

4. Possibly Westerly Area

We are looking to hopefully be able to use conventional financing if the deal allows, which I think is a good place to start learning given I have already been through that process with my primary residence.

We are now in "search" mode, we have created various versions of our own Cash Flow calculators, Cash on Cash calculators and have determined our goals for what we would like the house to produce in order for it to be something we would like to consider.

We have found a few that we would like to potentially look into with an agent (we potentially have one, we need to vet if they have worked with investors before not just retail home buyers) so that we can close on our first property by the end of 2018.

We are reasonably handy people if a house needs repairs we are willing to take on a task and put in sweat equity.

We are thinking about attending the next REI meet up in Rhode Island so that way we can begin networking with others in our area.

We appreciate any feedback and thoughts. We are here to learn and hopefully be of value to others in any way that we can. 

Welcome to BP @Chelsie Ritarossi !  It seems you are already on track with some of the avenues to find your first investment property.  Each of the 4 areas you have outlined have potential opportunity given the right deal.  

I personally own 3 multis in Providence and would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the area or tenant demographics from my experience as a landlord.

If you have the funding to do a conventional deal that's a great place to be.  Otherwise, I am a big advocate for "house hacking" as it reduces your risk as well as makes managing the property a little easier.  It all depends on your goals and it sounds like you have them well laid out already.

Best of luck as you begin your journey!  

@Chelsie Ritarossi everything you've written sounds great, especially where you said you'd like to have your  first investment property near to you. I would almost say that of the four areas you listed, you should strongly consider focusing on which one is closest to you.

I would also say to be careful about partnerships. I think they can work, and I have different partners on a number of deals, but you should definitely know who you're dealing with and be super explicit about who's responsible for what, especially what happens if things don't work out as planned.

For example, what if a tenant really trashes a unit/property and it takes several months to re-do and re-rent, making you cash flow negative for the year. Or a significant expense unexpectedly pops up (it will happen). If there is a "capital call" (i.e., the property needs more money dumped into it), who's going to step up, etc. What happens if someone dies or gets incapacitated? Partnerships are easy to get into, not always so easy to get out of.

I occasionally listen to a podcast done by an attorney and accountant named Refresh Your Wealth that has covered partnerships a number of times, most recently this past April in Business Partnerships – Do's & Don'ts so it might be worth a listen.

In any case, congratulations on working on your first investment property, and be sure to say hello if you come to the next RIREIG meeting!

@Chelsie Ritarossi yes absolutely.  Always enjoy talking with other investors about the Providence market.  There are many others on BP as well who own property in the area and would be great resources as well.  

Welcome aboard, @Chelsie Ritarossi !  It sounds like you're ready to move forward with your plan, so congrats on that!  If you and your partner are planning to self-manage and keep your full time jobs (for now), I'd stress the importance of proximity and convenience to your investment property.  We bought a property a month ago that's only 15 minutes away and also on our way home from work.  We didn't buy it for those reasons, but in hindsight, it's an important factor for us.  For a variety of reasons, we've been there 3-4 times per week over the last month, and I'd be miserable if I had to drive out of my way and far away to get to there.  You may have a higher tolerance for it, but with everything else you'll be doing to work on your investment business, the less time you spend in the car the better!

We currently have two MF properties (one in Johnston and one in Pawtucket), and I'd be happy to chat with you about it anytime.  Good luck on your journey!

Welcome, Chelsie! Sounds like you've got a plan and you are working it well...but that is to be expected. In my experience, marketing folks make great real estate investors ;)

Love your strategies as laid out above - my first 7 properties were conventionally financed and it just made it easier for us. But I gotta agree with @Christian Allen ....if you have an opportunity to house hack with an FHA loan at 3.5% down....it's probably worth the effort at this point in your career. I don't have many regrets about our real estate investing journey, but if I had to do it over, I would house hack early and often.

Keep us posted on your journey - look forward to following your success!

@Brandon Ingegneri I appreciate the support!

Since this post, I have been talking to multiple sources of financing and have viewed a handful of multi-families in the areas stated above. I am doing my due diligence to make sure that I am analyzing every property based off of my education thus far, I am getting closer to finding the property that the numbers work for. 

I WILL get a property before the end of the year. 

Hello All!


I wanted to update you and see if you had any advice for me in my next steps. I had an offer accepted on a duplex this past weekend and now I have already scheduled an inspection and am working to close by the end of the month. 

The house will not have any tenants if the sale goes through. What is the best advice for screening tenants, applications and leases agreements. 

I look forward to "marketing" the units, as I work in marketing for a living, but I have never marketed an apartment before.

Any and all advice is welcome!!

Congrats on getting an offer accepted!!

I personally have used online landlord tools like cozy.co for screening tenants and collecting applications. Much easier than tracking paper applications.  Cozy also has online rent payment and syndicates apartment listings to a few sites (realtor.com, doorsteps.com) as well so it's a good tool for small landlords. 

Other than that, I usually post on Zillow which syndicates to trulia and hotpads, as well as craigslist.  If you post to all of those you cover most of the rental listing market.  

Hi All!

I wanted to update you on the progress. I officially closed on Tuesday on a duplex and now am in the process of getting the property to rent. @Christian Allen mentioned using Cozy.co for rental management from a rent payment perspective. But I am looking for some advise on how to list the unit, what I should list and managing this new process. 

Very exciting time but the time of the year worries me as far as getting tenants in. Ideally, I would love to get tenants in by January 15th. Does anyone have advise or can give me an idea of how long it has taken you all to ramp up a property and get tenants in?

Any and all advise is welcome!

@Chelsie Ritarossi This came up in my RI alerts! Looks like we've ended up in the same career path (sort of) again LOL. Congrats on moving quickly and closing successfully especially in RI! 

My mentors have let me know pricing the property properly and screening the tenants will be some keys to long term success so be thorough! Even with family + friends. Here's a link below for starters but hopefully some of the experienced pros will chime in!

Tenant Screening: The Ultimate Guide

Congrats @Chelsie Ritarossi on closing! That's a big first step.  Most parts of RI have a high demand for good rentals so getting a good tenant in by Jan 15th shouldn't be too hard depending on the area.  

For creating a listing keep it simple and clear. List all apartment amenities, possible local attractions/neighborhood features and what is included in the rent/not included.  Good quality well lighted pictures go a long way in getting more people interested.  It's crazy how little effort some people put into the pictures which can make or break a listing.  As mentioned above, try to list on as many websites as possible to reach the largest audience you can. 

How quickly you can get the rental ready depends on the condition it is in currently. From my experience it is better to do any preventative work on the units before tenants move in to avoid hassle down the road.  It's much easier to get quotes and have contractors doing work while it's unoccupied. Even if this means missing a month of rental it could save you headaches and money down the road.  

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