Sunday, November 22, 2015

Black Friday Traditions

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a Facebook post from a family friend espousing her disappointment that stores are opening on Thanksgiving evening again this year. She went on to say people who shop then are losing out on being with their families and how they are materialistic above all else. I dismissed it and did not comment or “Like” the post, but now that the big Turkey Day event is upon us in only a few days, her words keep echoing around in my already overloaded head.

Here is why I choose to shop on Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday. Years ago, I was really struggling to make it on my meager salary and being a single mother with two kids who had lists of electronics and clothing and gadgets dancing in their heads, I was determined to get a couple of deals. So, yes, I stood in lines and waited my turn and scooped up some bargains. But I didn’t stand in the lines alone. No, with my son being in the care of my best friend’s husband, she, along with my teen age daughter joyfully spent those hours TOGETHER. At that time, it was a matter of getting up and out before the crack of dawn. Now, we head out in the black of night.

We strategically plan the entire trip, including snacks and meal breaks. We laugh and share jokes and take all the time we want. It is a bonding experience like no other. And it doesn’t matter that we don’t have a lot of money to spend, that it may be minus degree temps, snowing, raining, unseasonably warm, that we gained weight or lost weight or lost a job, changed jobs, struggled through an illness. It just doesn’t matter. We are together. We are united in our efforts to keep in touch.

We have weathered the storms of life together and shared so many laughs. And it is absolutely a joy that my daughter joined our ranks and is part of this tradition. If not for her, the shopping trip would not be so enjoyable because she is the one who maps it and puts it all together, and I love her for that. I love that my best friend and her husband have come every year for at least 20 years every Thanksgiving. These are two people for whom I am thankful. And the feeling of thankfulness continues every single day thereafter.

Wouldn't it be a nice touch if our Leasing Offices opened up in those wee hours of the morning with a coffee and donut breakfast on-th-go on that most important day of sharing with a new Black Friday tradition?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Is It the Right Time To Sell?

My favorite bra is a UK Wildcat shade of blue with little daisies on the cups. It fits so well and not just because it is from Victoria’s Secret, but, when I wear it, I feel like I look like a Victoria’s Secret model. I mean, it makes me look that good! The straps never leave my shoulders, it contains all of my “glory” into perfectly molded soft cups that shape me into that my definition of womanliness. 

So, what’s the problem, you ask? Hummm. The color and the pattern means I cannot wear it under everything. In fact, the color kind of limits wearing it under most of my things, especially for workdays. Most of my work wardrobe consists of black, white, cream, with some variation of gray. Those blue straps would definitely be noteworthy in a meeting.

I was thinking suddenly … what if? What if I could have gotten this one in a different color? But I didn’t (I got it on sale!) and I can’t even find it now in a different color when I would be willing to pay $150 for it! So THAT thought process made me wonder just how much I would be willing to pay for housing. After all, the studies are predicting record high rent increases coming any day now, if they haven’t already started in your area. 

It’s a good time to be on the market now …. Yes, should be a lot of investors paying attention to this one. How many properties in your portfolio are for sale now? Or, perhaps you are looking to acquire. May the profits be with you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Affordable Housing for Middle Income? It's a Myth!

May I ask you a personal question? Can you afford to live where you live? I mean, I know it’s none of my business what you pay in rent (or a mortgage) but … Oh. Wait. I IS my business to know such things. And the truth of the matter is, it IS getting harder to afford the rent in many places. Take the city where my student housing properties are: South Bend, Indiana, the home of the Fighting Irish - #GoIrish!

Recently the Edward Rose Company increased the rents on all units in their communities upwards of $45 or more on their 2 bedroom 2 bath floor plans. This should be a more or less expected increase, since it is my understanding they have not increased rents at all for years. Their pricing remained stagnant because the market here has been stagnant. No job growth. No industry growth, other than the GM plant and the nearby recreational vehicle industry in Elkhart, Indiana.

Many of you may remember the entire industry there collapsed a few years back when the Great Recession hit this area like a ton of bricks falling on a person’s head. It just died. Within the last 24 months, there have been significant signs of new life, but I wouldn’t call it a growth pattern. You cannot really have a sustainable growth pattern when no one is getting raises. There is absolutely zero salary growth in this area. It makes it depressing for the apartment industry, and no doubt for the many people who work here … at the same exact pay they were making 3-5 years ago. 

So, can you afford where you live? If the apartment rent goes up from your current rate, are you able to renew your lease? Or, will you start looking to enter into home ownership? Or, even home renter(ship) instead of renewing your lease? 

Too many people are making between $22-30K per year. How is it justified that many of the local apartment complexes have 2 bedroom 1 bath apartments that went from rents lower than $600 only 2 years ago to now $795-850? There are brand new complexes in the area but they are marketed directly to affiliates of the University of Notre Dame (especially students and their parents), AM General, Bayer and city employees at rents starting at $2400 per month. Where does place the local workforce who cannot afford the new places and now are being priced out of their current rentals?
What this are desperately needs is an in-between community and investors who believe in this market. What this market needs is a community that puts rents in $700-850 price range that are energy efficient, offer larger kitchen areas with an open concept living plan and in-unit laundry facilities. Nobody really cares about the pool or a billiards room in the Clubhouse. What they would use are outdoor kitchens with nice furniture, walking trails, being pet welcoming with real green space. Let the resident the choice to pick his own cable/internet source and pay for it, or include it in the rent. I’d pay for that. I’d pay for this kind of place.

What I won’t pay for is a building built in the 60s or 70s that has installed granite countertops, wood-look flooring and a price that is not worth it. Old buildings are still old construction. Pipes are still gunked up with past grossness with flows very restricted. Yes, some of these management companies include the gas heat; however, the windows and patio doors actually allow frigid wind to blow through … so the resident is still uncomfortable and the management companies are still paying for the heat to warm the great outdoors.   

I love it when an older community makes the cosmetic updates to compete but keeps their pricing affordable for the current residents. Am I just dreaming?