Investing in Erie, Pennsylvania

50 Replies

Hi, Robert. I do. There's a handful of us (that I know of) on BP who invest in Erie (most live in Erie) and some out-of-staters who never lived here have even shown interest in Erie (which could be rough because Erie is notorious for bad PMs).

@Robert Dartnell @Karl B.  

What's up boys! I live here in the good ol' 814. Taking my RE exam Thursday, and then will be buying my first MFH in the next few months, and will be expanding from there. 

Robert - are you from Erie or have you just been up here before?

Looking forward to chatting soon. 

@Dillon Loomis Hi, Dillon. I recognize you from Fitness U. I work out there when I'm in town. 

I'm currently in town renting out two vacant units (vacant from the previous owner - closed on a 4-unit in mid-December). 

Also, congratulations on the soon-to-be RE license!

@Chris Mentch Congrats on closing! Where is the duplex you bought? Is it currently rented out? Owner-occupy?

@Karl B. I thought that was you! Wasn't sure though. Congrats on the 4-unit! Where is that one at? How often are you in Erie?

@Robert Dartnell Definitely keep me posted on the RE investment group, highly interested! Are you working somewhere in Erie full-time right now?

@Dillon Loomis -- The duplex is in the city. So we're not expecting any appreciation. No major work needed. Just jumping in at the price point we can manage with immediate cashflow. It came with longer term tenants who are happy there and we kept in place.

@Dillon Loomis Thanks. It's on 8th & Cascade. I come to Erie maybe 3-4 times a year. Here renting the place out now - itching to get back home. 

I'm from Baltimore, but my wife grew up outside of Erie so I occasionally check out the RE market up there and the prices seem pretty reasonable. What property types seem to be the best for rentals up there? SFH or MF? I wouldn't mind getting a 4 unit, but I'd be afraid there would be more turnover in that type of property, making it a little tough to manage from out of town.

@Chris Mentch if you don't mind sharing, could you tell me how much you paid from the property and how much its renting for? I've checked asking rent rates on Zillow and hotpads, but those aren't always accurate

@Karl B.  Are you self managing remotely or using a PM? 

@Robert Dartnell Good luck with your investment group. I checked facebook for one but the only one I found for Erie had just two members. The local Baltimore REI groups are pretty active. Part of the reason I'm considering Erie is due to the fact that SO many people are coming from out of town to invest in Baltimore that it's really driving up prices in desirable areas - and I don't really want to invest in the hood just for cashflow, although I have considered it.

@Tim Youse I magage remotely but I come back to Erie a few times a year to see family/friends and so I get work done while I'm here. We had an amazing 70 degree day here today and I did a lot of yardwork, as the prior owner let that lapse (he lived in NJ and his PM was absolutely worthless). 

When I bought the 4-unit the bottom two units were occupied - one guy and his girlfriend have been there five years and in the other unit the woman has been there three years (she's Section 8). All good tenants. 

I've been super picky with rental criteria - still haven't filled the upstairs units. You would be amazed the number of people who schedule an appointment and don't show up. I don't want a PM because I don't need one, though I may find someone I know to show the units for me while I'm out of town. If that person fills the place (all they will be doing is showing the units and getting rental applications) I'll give them a nice finder's fee. I plan on buying more units and I know it will get to a point where I can hire someone as my full-time in-house PM. We have some commercial properties in Erie so I may be able to weave that person between commercial and residential. 

@Karl B. how do you handle it if something "urgent" happens and you're in LA. Leak, hot water tank, roof, whatever. 

I'm just thinking ahead to when I have a few units and I go on vacation, prior to having a PM. If a tenant called me with something urgent while I was in the Bahamas, what would I do? 

Gentlemen... glad to see lil ol Erie, Pa getting some action on BP... I haven't been active on BP for a couple months but excited to get back at it and build up a solid RE group on here...

Just a little quick background on my journey so far in Erie, Pa... I am born and raised in Erie, PA and currently live here... I work a full time professional salary job and manage my own properties during weeknights and weekends... Been at this REI gig for 4 years now and currently have 2 MF units, a total of 4 doors... I currently owner occupy the downstairs of one of my properties... Both properties are in the City of Erie... if you do your research, you can find B/C category properties that provide GREAT cash flow... not everyone has given up on living in city and moving to Millcreek or the county and there are still good, reliable people looking to rent in the West side City areas, but that is if you screen properly... Overall, I've had my wins and loses in my early career of REI, but I can tell you that the BRRRR concept is alive and well in Erie... I do a lot of the work myself, putting in sweat equity, but I also feel I have a reliable network of RE agents, brokers, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians to do the work that I cannot or better yet should not do and hire licensed professionals... hard lesson learned, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR...

Enough about me... I'm curious to get some updates on you guys and feedback on your journey so far in Erie REI...

@Dillon Loomis -- hope the RE exam went well for you!!  If you want to get any more insight on how I started out in Erie, I'd be glad to chat...  My properties are both located off of Liberty St in the City... one off of West 8th and one off of West 27th... when it comes to managing my properties when I'm out of town, I have a reliable friend who handles any emergencies (lockouts, water leaks, toilet/sewer issues, etc.) but outside of that the tenants and my friend have my go to plumbers and contractors for anything that needs handled... and I settle up on the bill when I get back... having reliable professionals you can trust is all you need, but that has come at many ups and downs for me... took my 4 years but I feel I'm in a good place now...

@Chris Mentch -- curious to know who you used to finance your deal for your property... I've been using Select Mortgage as my broker, and my financing is all done with a local bank, Northwest Savings... where is your property located in the City?

@Karl B. -- looks like you are still in town since you enjoyed our heat wave here in Erie yesterday... let me know how the Tenant search goes for the two upstairs units... and I've got a property a couple blocks from you so if you are down around there this weekend it'd be a good opportunity to meet up and chat...

Final thought and just throwing this out there but it'd be awesome to meet up with you guys in Erie at a local restaurant/ bar to talk some more...  My next challenge is building up enough cash/ equity to land my next deal so any direction on hard money lenders, RE investors who just want to put up some cash I'd be happy to entertain... 

@Dillon Loomis That wouldn't be an issue. I would simply call my plumber and have him hightail it there. I trust the guy and so I know the work will be done correctly and the cost will be fair. 

And in the event the tenant isn't there or the issue is somewhere where the tenant doesn't have access - my parents have a set of keys to all the doors. I know some landlords also keep a key lock box on premises for issues like this as well. 

@James McFadden Sounds good. Let me know what your schedule is like Sunday. I'll be around early-afternoon. 

I'll chime in here. Awesome to see a thread on Erie. I grew up in Union City (in Erie County) and I'm just getting started in REI. I looked at some 4-plexes, triplexes, this summer to buy, but they needed a lot of work. I haven't bought yet.

One of the things that is holding me back from buying is my perceived lack of appreciation in the housing market in Erie. Erie doesn't have the population or economics to drive growth. I think I could have cashflow, so I'm looking at investing in other markets that also have appreciation.

Many folks have a fear of living in parts of the city like the east side and so they are moving to Millcreek and the "burbs". 

I'm a total newbie and plan on buying my first property this year. Thanks for this discussion. I definitely read it with interest.

Gabriel Hershberger


@Karl B. I will PM you

@Gabriel Hershberger you are right that the appreciation in property value is less than ideal for investing in Erie, IF that is your strategy with your portfolio... for me it's just taking the time to find the right property that's fits the criteria I'm looking for to generate cash flow that I can save to go after my next deal... obviously gaining equity would accelerate my ability to purchase more properties but I don't think those opportunities are that plentiful in Erie, atleast in my experience... however scooping up decent properties in the 55-75K range is doable and will generate solid cash flow... 

Thank you @James McFadden for your view. You make an excellent point. The capital required to get into the market is low and there can be cashflow from the start. So in theory I could start off by owning some cashflow properties with 0% appreciation quickly. Then change strategies and buy properties with appreciation + cashflow. Thank you sir.

@James McFadden Hey! Glad you chimed in on here. And thanks for asking about the test - went well, 93%. Proctor ladies said "highest scores we've seen" lol - 814 not setting the bar too high thus far I suppose! Been interviewing brokers this week - narrowed it down to Marsh and Agresti...not sure who I'm going to go with just yet.

And that's one of my primary goals is to build my network of plumbers/electricians/contractors etc. - I know a ton of people from my past/current careers, just not sure who does good, affordable work and am feeling like figuring that out will be trial and error. A lot of established RE folks here in Erie are rather discreet when it comes to sharing their contacts for that work.

 I'd love to get together at some point, and of course the more the merrier! This little Erie thread has me pumped up lol

@Gabriel Hershberger cash flow is king! I was a financial advisor with Edward Jones for three years, and long story short for the bulk of my retirement I want something I can control! Appreciation (outside of forced) is something we don't have much control over, but with cash flow investing you DO have control - setting rents, screening/finding tenants, improving units to improve rent rates etc. - of course everyone is different and appreciation is great but if this is where you are growing your roots for now I definitely wouldn't let the lack of appreciation potential stop you from investing. Having tenants pay down your mortgage and building your equity is a beautiful thing! 

And who knows, if enough younger Erie folk change their minds and choose to stay and rebuild the area as opposed to fleeing elsewhere, Erie/Millcreek/Summit etc. have a lot to offer!

Gentlemen, welcome to the group! Thank you for your contributions. I will reach out to each of you individually. We are planning on making this summer the time to produce some serious cash flow- through our own real estate investments here in Erie, PA!

Hey there all, glad to finally see some discussion about Erie! I am 21, interested in real estate investing. Currently saving up some money so I'm a year or so I can get a duplex or 4-plex and live in one unit while renting others out for a few years until I can buy my next properties. I would love to see a group in Erie. If any of you guys meet up or want to talk sometime I would love to join/talk.