[Note: This article co-authored by Ben Leybovich and Darren Sager.]
Do you have any idea what it’s like when two middle-aged men are in a car together for seven hours?!
Yes, the fact that the car is a Tesla Model S helped a lot. But as magical as Tesla is in so many ways, even the Tesla was unable to change certain middle-aged realities.
Oy vey. The movie City Slickers comes to mind.
From the Beginning
This past week, I had the privilege to welcome my good friend Darren Sager to my house hack in Chandler, Arizona. Darren stayed in my casita (which is paying for my increasingly nice house, but that’s for another time), and as far as I can tell, he was quite comfortable.
When you get to be as old as we are (I am 42, and I’m not allowed to say how old he is, but “old” pretty much describes him), you begin to look for ways to combine that which is good for your business with that which is good for your soul. There are some great events that take place nationally in the world of real estate, related to both investing and construction. Darren has always been proactive in trying to understand the advances in the industry on a timely basis. He is always looking for developments in materials and practices that will help with long-term CapEx, maintenance, etc. He’d always go to national building expos and nag at me to come along.
Related: 3 Technologies Changing the Way Landlords Manage Rental Properties
Alas, I’d always tell him I don’t even like real estate that much (only the part where it puts money in my pocket), so I never did go—until now!
National Hardware Show, Vegas
We attended the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas this past week. Darren had called and said, “I’m going.” I said, “Fly into Phoenix. I’ll put you up for a few days, feed you some home-made food, and then we’ll drive out together—take the Tesla—you can drive.”
“Done,” he said.
The trip (both ways) was fun, in a two-middle-aged-males-on-the-loose kind of a way. I’ll let you develop that thought any way you see fit and pass the writing button to Darren for a detailed description of the highlights from the expo.
Side note: Our friend Brandon Turner was supposed to meet us in Vegas, transforming the most proper description of the happenings from two middle-aged males on the loose to two grown men and a baby, but he cancelled on us last minute. I, for one, have yet to forgive him!
News From the Show
We came across a few products that could make a difference in the quality of your rentals over time. Two stood out as likely the most useful.
Painting is a recurring expense in rentals, and there’s been a lot of debate on BiggerPockets about what type of paint to use in your rentals. Many argue, as I have, that a flat finish paint is one of the easiest to touch up should something go wrong and that in most cases, you don’t have to paint the entire wall as you would with a matte, eggshell, semi-gloss or gloss finish. Flat is more forgiving in hiding poor workmanship, both as that relates to painting and the condition of wall surface.
However, flat finish is definitely more apt to get marks and scuffs on it than the other finishes. Therefore, while flat finish definitely has its place, it is an imperfect solution at best. As landlords, we are always looking for something more robust, something that is easy to work with and more durable.
When Ben and I entered the Benjamin Moore paint booth at the show, Ben was instantly taken to one of their new products that could turn any wall into a white board. Pretty neat product; however, that type of paint has been out for a few years. My eyes were drawn to another product called SCUFF-X. What was this product? I like to use BM products in all my projects and rentals, and I’d never seen it before and had to ask.
According to the BM rep, they’d been working on the product for a few years, testing it out on a university campus to see how well it would perform over time to reduce the scuff marks that can occur by people walking into walls, knocking into them, etc. According to the rep, the product had exceeded their expectations on durability and resistance to marking. The product is not 100 percent scuff-proof per se, but it does far better than any other paint they’ve made before. Plus, if and when it does mark, it can handle the repeated cleaning far better than any other paint they’ve made to restore the surface back to its original condition.
How exactly it does this is proprietary to BM, but I can tell you it’s something that Ben and I would really want to try out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to repaint stair risers white because they scuff up from shoes going up and down, not by anyone’s fault. If this could solve that problem, I’d seriously consider painting all our rentals with the paint—walls, trim, doors, you name it. I’m praying this product is half as good as they’re saying it is.
AjustLock Latch Bolt
We’d have walked right past this one if it weren’t for one of the sales reps pulling us into the booth to tell us about it. I have to admit, when I go to a trade show, I’m usually on a mission. There are specific products that I’m looking at to solve specific issues for me, and this was not one.
This is a simple latch, but with a twist. I know, not particularly exciting, but we are talking about a barrel bolt, the type that usually holds a gate from popping open. If you’ve ever put one on, you’ll know it can be a bit of a pain because you need the slide bolt and the receptacle part to perfectly align so that the mechanism can lock.
But the bigger issue is that over time, the door begins to sag a bit (after your tenant’s kid decides to use it as a swing back and forth), and suddenly you’re fighting the get the two parts to line up so that you can secure slide the latch through the receptacle.
Well, this won’t be an issue because Ajustco finally came up with a solution called AjustLock. The solution is simple yet elegant. They made the receptacle to the bolt (the part on the post) able to float freely up and down so that perfect alignment is not needed anymore.
This is huge. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this solution before? Well, all I can say is I’m glad they did, and I hope they have success with the product. It’s great to see a small company create a good solution, and I hope their patent is super strong to stop the bigger players in the space from stealing their idea.
Outside of those two items there were a few more, but none that Ben and I could agree upon. My experience is that the Builders Show in Florida this past January offered more solutions for tenant proofing your rentals than The National Hardware Show did. But this was definitely a worthwhile trip—and Ben would probably say because I got to drive the Tesla. 🙂
Hope these products help you and your rentals!
And now some closing words from Ben…
The reason you are here, on BiggerPockets is to be able to learn how to leverage real estate into some amount of freedom by replacing your W2 income with rental income. I cannot stress enough how much it means to be able to take off and go hang out with a friend, as Darren and I just did. Real estate tees up this type of freedom for both Darren and me, and we are grateful!
The show was good. The time spent with a good friend was priceless. Big thanks to my wife, Patrisha Leybovich, for covering for me for a few days!
Guys, the real estate cycle has changed. Coming into real estate investing today doesn’t look like it did 5, 7, 10, or 20 years ago. This is a challenging market. But if you are smart, there are still opportunities. And there is one strategy that I like best for new investors, but that’s for another time.
Good luck to all!
Have you come across any new products that might make landlording a little bit more painless?
Share your recommendations below!