I would be remiss if I left out this part of my life experience.
In 1985 I was watching too many late-night TV infomercials. At the time many were talking about how you could be successful and make money in income-producing real estate––two-families, three-families, and multi units. I was 35 years old, we had only one child, and more importantly, we had equity in our home.
After reading the information and looking around for properties, I decided to act. We purchased three properties in 1986 and created three realty trusts named after the streets that the various properties were located on.
3 Properties, 18 Units, and Maxed Out in Debt
Fredonian Street Realty Trust was a three-family in Shirley, MA. Mill Street Realty Trust contained 8 apartment units (consisting of two buildings) also in Shirley, and Brown Street Realty Trust contained 7 apartment units (consisting of two buildings) in Winchendon, MA.
We were able to get bank financing for Fredonian Street. We got short-term notes for Mill Street, and I maxed out our home equity to buy the Brown Street property.
Talk about a life-changing experience. We owned these three properties for 13 years.
They were older buildings, and all three properties at that time had septic systems and were not connected to any kind of public sewer system.
Let me give you some hard-earned advice. Water has to go somewhere, and it’s better if the city takes it rather than having it leach into the ground on your property.
Let me give you some more hard-earned advice. Owning income-producing property isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. You are responsible for the lives and well-being of your tenants. Even if you have the supposed legal insulation of a trust, you are still responsible.
I managed the 8-unit in Shirley and the 7-unit in Winchendon. I had a real estate broker interview tenants for Winchendon. I finally hired a real estate lady to handle the 3-family in Shirley because at one time I had the lady on the first floor complaining about “the welfare #%&*@ on the second floor.” That was the last straw. From then on I let Jackie the Real Estate Lady handle it.
Here is a letter from a Winchendon woman who claims Jehovah would take
everyone with him if she wasn’t allowed to have an apartment. The good news was
that I already had a personal relationship with Jehovah through the Lord Jesus
Christ, so I wasn’t worried. We did, however, turn the letter over to the local police.
The infomercials didn’t cover everything I would’ve liked to have known going in. Take a trip with me down memory lane…
- A total apartment freeze-up in Shirley leading to a massive gut out and remodel
- 6 a.m. phone call from Winchendon about a hot water leak spewing all over the place
- Mrs. S’s call about Mr. L thinking he won The Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes and the ensuing drunken parties
- The firebug grandson living at E and M’s apartment who had set various fires around the property and called in the fire department and ultimately lit a fire in HIS OWN CLOSET … another massive gut out and total remodel
- A fire in a second floor in Winchendon caused by candles after a woman whose electricity was shut off by the utility for nonpayment left them burning in her apartment when she went out for the night
- A tenant telling the kids next door how she had a hole from one nostril to the other because she snorted coke
- A tenant who was tragically killed by a falling limb while driving during a rainstorm
- Evacuation of the Brown Street buildings due to threat of a dam break
- A backup of a relatively new septic system in Winchendon leading to a lawsuit
- The Fredonian Street tenant that abandoned his top-floor apartment without paying rent, leaving behind bags and bags of clothes that had been given to the family by Goodwill
- The tenant who thought I still owned the Mill Street property years after it had been sold
- The tenant who couldn’t pay his rent because he had to buy presents for his kids at Christmas … Did he buy the presents or did I?
- The skunks underneath apartment R in Shirley
- The bat that freaked out the lady on the first floor in the Fredonian Street apartments
- The Board of Health inspection that necessitated me paying for my tenants to live elsewhere while the building was de-leaded
- The time we had severe cold around Thanksgiving, which caused the rear 2-family building in Winchendon to freeze up so solid that I had to get the town of Winchendon to send a welder to unfreeze the distribution pipe in the ground outside the building … Unbelievable
- The Thanksgiving Eve call about the leaking hot water tank located in the kitchen of one of the units in Shirley
- The Christmas call about a septic system backup in Winchendon
- The new septic system backup in Winchendon caused when the pump was hit by lightning
- The flooding in the basement of the Mill Street apartment in Shirley that had to be pumped up by the fire department
- The annual fall worry-fest just thinking about how it was going to get cold and wondering which apartments would have a freeze-up
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Add to this the tens of thousands spent in remodeling and renovation over the years and I received valuable experience regarding permitting, de-leading, mildew, construction, plumbing, electrical, rooter services, insurance cancellations, evictions, Housing Court, and sewage system installations … not to mention law suits. You can’t run an operation like this for 13 years without getting sued at least once.
All this happened at the same time as the birth of three of our children, including a set of twins, and all the rest of the stuff you see on this website.
All in all, my adventure in real estate was an interesting and challenging time that was part of my continuing education!