House 3: Lessons Learned

Each project gives you tons of opportunities to learn, so if you can't find at least some new things you've learned, you're doing something wrong. I certainly got lots of opportunities to learn on this project! My lessons:

Location, location, location! Of course, this is the cardinal rule of real estate and I thought I knew it. In fact, I do know it. Where I was lacking was my ability to properly judge a neighborhood. I knew when I was investigating the property that it was in a low income neighborhood. That means the crime rate will likely be high. I did not expect to be broken into four times! There were several homes on the same street that looked very nice and well-kept and the cars parked on the street were newer models and in good shape, so I thought the area wouldn't be so bad. I know better now.

Repairs. This is a mixed bag for me. I really like the handyman I used. He completed the job quickly, had regular hours, and went out of his way to help me on the times when the property was broken into, even after he was technically done with the job. On the other hand, others have suggested that his prices were a bit on the high side. Next time, I'll do some more research before hiring someone. This guy's service will be hard to beat though.. He was also a licensed contractor, as opposed to the handyman I had used on the last two houses. I really can tell the difference in work quality and professionalism and I'll be sticking with licensed contractors from now on.

I also learned a bit about what to replace. The property had an evaporative ("swamp") cooler in it. It was old and broken, so I replaced it with a new one. But the buyer wanted air conditioning and I ended up giving her some money at the sale to get that installed. I don't have any idea what it costs to install air conditioning in a house, but I'm sure it's cheaper than putting in a new evap unit and then installing air conditioning!

Security. Because of the neighborhood the property was in, I should have paid more attention to security issues. I always made sure all the doors and windows were locked and I did change the locks as soon as I owned the place, but there was more I should have done. The property backed up to an alley and had a double wide gate in the backyard. It took me a couple months before I realized I should put padlocks on that. I'm convinced that went a long way towards stopping the break-ins. Around the same time, I put up some temporary paper blinds in the front facing windows. I also bought two desk lamps and timers and set them in the house so there would be some lights on during the evening. The padlocks, blinds, lamps, and timers are super cheap when compared to the costs of repairing vandalism damage. And I still have the lamps and timers, so I can use them at the next property.

Oh, and just one last time, here's the post with the Before and After pictures.


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