Here’s another piece of advice I received from a woman who also works with her husband: They have a pair of blue baseball caps. When they’re at home discussing business, they have to put the caps on. If one of them wants to talk about something personal, he or she first has to remove the cap so the other knows it’s the spouse talking, and not the business partner.
Steve suggested we just get some Nerf bats and battle it out. Our 6-year-old loves that idea.
It’s Sunday, and I’m at my local Starbucks writing this blog post. 6-year-old Savannah is with me, playing a game called Township on my phone. You design your own town, populate it, build houses and schools, kind of cool actually.
We left Steve at home in peace and quiet so he could reconstruct the week in finances for my record keeping. That was my big New Year’s resolution for the business: to keep accurate records of income and spending, daily if possible. It’s okay if a day goes by because one of us got home too late and is too tired to deal with it – we can catch up the next day. But we haven’t done our numbers since Monday, and a week is too long. A week can easily snowball into a month, then into a quarter, then the next thing you know I’m trying to reconstruct an entire year of income and expenses so we can do our taxes. And then I want to kill my husband. Actually, I don’t want to kill him. I like having him around. I may pummel him with throw pillows, however.
The reason I write this blog has evolved. I originally started it to chronicle my fight against Wilkes-Barre’s One Strike Ordinance, after it shut down a rental unit owned by one of our investor friends. We had convinced this poor man that Wilkes-Barre was a good market to invest in rentals, and the city shut down his unit for six months because one of his tenants – who rented the unit with a clean criminal record, by the way – was arrested on drug charges. The city had no constitutional right to do this – as was later proved in a court of law by the ACLU. The last I heard, our friend was launching his own lawsuit to recover his losses.
I actually owe a great debt to the One Strike Ordinance. It got me writing publicly. In high school, I was considered a promising writer. Won a few contests. In college, my writing style wasn’t quite as well-received by my professors, and I lost interest. I took up daily journaling about 6 years after graduation, but no one ever saw those notebooks but me. When One Strike happened to my friend, private journaling suddenly wasn’t enough. I felt like I was going to explode if I didn’t communicate to the world and whoever else would listen exactly what was going on and how I felt about it. And Ginger Snapped was born. Or rather, she kicked her way out of the egg a fully-formed and rather angry adult ready to kick some ass!
It might be fun to read that first blog post again. Here it is:
Well, that fight really ended before it began. My friend didn’t want me to launch a lawsuit and media campaign on his behalf in 2015. He wanted to wait for the ACLU to do their thing, and then sue the city later. So my blog became more of a chronicle of what it’s like to run a real estate business with your husband while raising a small child. Ginger Snapped won’t sugar coat anything – this is what it’s really like for a regular Joe & Jane to get into real estate investing, landlording, flipping houses. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it is something I truly believe in. I will always tell the truth. It’s not always going to be pretty!
A real-life week in the life of a real estate investor/landlord
Here is a sampling of the trials and tribulations our little real estate business has been through this week. Perhaps this will explain why my husband has been too tired to keep up with the record keeping!
Rentals: These were a source of marital/business conflict this week. Steve doesn’t have time to deal with them, because he wants to be out there finding more houses to flip with our new investor partner. And he has other investors that are relying on our company to rehab their new purchases. I am in the midst of a huge financial project to ensure our growing business survives, so I don’t have time to take rental management over yet. But as I’ve said before, rentals are a pain in the ass. They are not passive income, no matter what the real estate gurus say. At the moment, we still have six empty units to rent. Steve has assigned our new intern, a Penn State business student, the task of calling back prospective tenants and setting up showings. Perhaps that will relieve some of the pressure on Steve. I will jump in as soon as I can, but right now I have to set up the proper corporate structure for our new business plan, and then get our CPA to set up Quikbooks for it so I can sanely keep up with the massive recordkeeping. And we may be looking for a new CPA if she doesn’t get back to me this week!
Just to give you an idea of how much of a pain in the ass rentals are, we had a tenant ready to move in to one of our units this week. He loved the place and put down a full month’s security deposit to hold it. Then he gave us his first and last month’s rent (we gave him a discount off the monthly rent for that) to move in. On the final walk through, the tenant’s girlfriend, who was not on the lease, was turning up her nose and making comments to Steve like, “What about this? I don’t like that.” This place was remodeled and looked fine to me, and I have pretty high standards. The next day, the tenant was telling us the place smells, and the smell made his mother ill, and he can’t live there. There is no smell. His girlfriend didn’t like the apartment and he wanted to continue getting laid, so he backed out of the deal. I sent him his rent back, and kept his one month’s deposit. I wasn’t going to fight him on it. Who wants that as a tenant?
Flips: That little Victorian house I raved about last week (http://thisgingerjustsnapped.weebly.com/blog/thoughts-walking-through-flips) got the green light from the city inspector. Our offer was verbally accepted, but the deal has not yet been sealed, so I’ll have to hold off on posting those pictures and blogging about our plans for this flip that I am really excited about. Keep your fingers crossed that I’ll be able to do that next week!
We walked through another one in the Back Mountain, one of the communities where the well-to-do of Northeast PA live. The houses in this neighborhood were large and lush. The one we checked out hadn’t been occupied in nine years, according to the overly-friendly neighbor who was probably alarmed by the dented Honda Fit and 6-year-old Prius that had pulled up the long driveway. It was on a lot that had once been nicely landscaped. The house itself fit the neighborhood, but wasn’t overly grand. And it needs a lot of work. There’s some mold remediation needed in the basement, and cosmetically the house looks like the set of a seventies porno. If we flip it, we’re going to need high end materials – real, not engineered hardwood. Marble. It would take about $200,000 to bring this home to grandeur, and that means we’d have to get it for around $100,000 to make it worth our while. I’m not holding out much hope, but stranger things have happened. I mean, Donald Trump became president, so I guess anything is possible!
A money making opportunity for YOU
I have two more houses to walk through with Steve this afternoon. Our new investor partner wants to do twenty-four flips with us this year, so we need deals! **IF you know of a property for sale NOT already listed on the MLS by a realtor, you could earn a finder’s fee of $500 or more if we buy it! This is known as "Bird Dogging" in the industry, and it's a great way to get into investing that won't cost you a dime. A lot of "Bird Dogs" go on to be wholesalers if they want to be more involved in the industry. Wholesalers often go on to flipping houses themselves. Of course you could just be a "Bird Dog" and put $500 in your pocket once, twice, three times a month and be very satisfied with just staying there. Please contact Steve Franco at (570) 798-7051 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org