Table is built by investors. We are building this company for ourselves as much as for our clients. It’s pretty rare and definitely cool. We want to share our deals with you. We want to let you see the ups, and downs. To learn from them the same way we have. We share case studies, but we wanted to share something more personal. Something that felt a little closer to home. So we’re taking you back to the beginning and telling you all about our very first deals.
This is Kaitlin’s.
How old were you when you bought your first investment property?
Since I know you mean a real investment property – I was 28, my husband was 29. We had purchased land prior to that which we sometimes do a hunting lease on, but I don’t think that counts as an investment property in this sense – just an investment in my peace of mind that one day I won’t be able to see my neighbors.
What did you buy?
We actually purchased 2 single family homes at the same time, a 3 bed 2 bath home in SW OKC and a 3 bed 1 bath in Mustang (both in Mustang Schools).
Was it a good investment? (AKA- would you buy it again now)
Yes! I’d buy them over and over again (especially at those prices!).
Was it hard to get a loan? How much cash did you need?
It didn’t seem particularly hard, we used Bank of Oklahoma, they were easy to work with, they offer loans for investment properties and were familiar with the process. We put down 25% on both (we have separate loans and everything for the homes, they were just bought the same day). Admittedly we were unique in that we lived in SoCal, but were Oklahoma residents (so both out of state and local investors?) Also my husband did 4 deployments in 4 years, that allowed us to save up a significant amount to put down.
Did you have anything go wrong in the first year?
We had something go wrong the 1st week! Our very lovely neighbor called and screamed at me that the shared fence had blown down and she wanted us to replace it (because she was babysitting her daughter’s dogs don’t I know!) She was…unpleasant to say the least. (And veryyy racist) In the end we came to an agreement to split the cost since it is a shared fence and we would pay up front (because after so much back and forth it came out that she couldn’t afford to pay anything at that time.) That’s been 4 years and we’re still waiting for her to pay her portion.
How long did you keep the property?
Still have both of them, we purchased in Nov 2017! And added a 3rd in Aug 2018.
What advice would you give to someone buying their first investment property?
Know yourself – know what you want and what you can handle. I am an anxious person, very very anxious. For the first 3 years of owning these properties I had home warranties on them (I LOATHE home warranties) I never used them because it was easier to just hire my contractors but the safety net of knowing I had them let me sleep at night. I canceled them and then 4 months later got to buy a whole new HVAC system. But by that point I had enough reserves and medications to be able to deal with it.
I have only ever bought rental homes in Mustang, that’s where I’m from, it’s what I know (ya know, despite being a property manager for like gazillion years). I want to spend more for that area, keep my rent competitive, and keep my tenants for years. Low repairs, low turnover. But I’m also not looking to BRRRRRRR or live off these.
You’re a property manager… you see it all. What advice would you give about investing in general?
I’ll admit my experiences in buying were pretty far from the norm, my first 2 were purchased from my boss and the third was a short sale my employer was handling. I’ve dabbled in property management (HA!) so I knew all 3 homes well, had personally placed all the tenants, and had been managing them for anywhere from a year to 4 years when I bought them. I elected to keep myself as property manager but kept them with my employer. One piece of advice I tell people is never tell the tenant you’re the owner – it opens up the door to sob stories, late night calls, and a load of trouble. Even if you are self managing, create an LLC and just work there. There’s always a “boss” – even if it’s your wife 😉
Remember your tenants are humans, they have jobs, pets, kids. (also us, me, property managers, we’re human too) I know it’s a bullet to bite to spend $7k+ on a new HVAC system. I truly do. But there is a family living in that home without AC and it’s 95+ every day. Sometimes we might seem pushy or annoying asking for approval, for contributions, sending emails, and calling. Just try and think of how you would feel if it were your kids having to take cold baths because the hot water tank was broken or not being able to cook dinner because the stove went out. I’m cheap, and I always want the best deal, but sometimes we have to consider the human cost of getting multiple estimates or looking to save.
You need smoke detectors and CO detectors. Yes I know having one in every bedroom and outside every bedroom seems like a lot. Follow the NFPA recommendations.
Be prepared, if it can go wrong it will. I often think that one day I’ll stop being surprised by the things I see in property management. But this month marks 14 years and twice in the last week I’ve had to stop and just…think about life. I do have great stories for parties though!
Okay okay, since (nobody) asked I’ll share 1 story. Long ago I was working short sales, I did property management but since I was the only one in the office cleared to wear tennis shoes I got to do all the field work. We had gotten in a new property that the bosses were very interested in, so they gave me the key and sent me off to get photos. I arrived at the home and as I approached I noticed a certain….smell. I unlocked the front door and went to enter the home. Now I’ve never been the victim of one of those pranks where they put a bucket of water over a door so it pours on you when you walk in. But I imagine it was the same sensation. There was a moment of shock, what is that, confusion, what is falling on me? Then pure horror as I realized it was hundreds of roaches, literally pouring down on my head like a waterfall. By some saving grace my hair was in a ponytail, but they were still all in my hair. They were in my shoes. My shirt. My bra. I took those photos. Went to the backyard to shake off my clothes as much as I could and went straight home. Stripped in the garage, threw the clothes in the washer and RAN to the shower.
But the real fun began when it was time for the appraisal, again for the short sale so ideally we wanted this to be low low low. I had outright told my bosses I would never again enter that home so when it was time to go I warned the appraiser that I would be handing him the key and sitting in my car. I told him of the roaches. I told him of the waterfall of yuck. The day comes and I meet him there, and he has brought with him his 19 year old daughter so he can “teach her the trade” she could not have seemed less interested. She was very pretty, nicely dressed, and wearing shoes that made my feet hurt just looking at them. Quite the contrast to my worn jeans, tshirt, and barn boots. True to my word I handed him the key and wished him luck. His daughter started to follow but I asked her to come and wait with me in the drive, she looked at me for a long moment but something in my face or years of secret silent female communication must have led her to agree. And so we waited, at the very end of the driveway, almost in the street. Just as she was probably starting to think I was trying to get her run over we heard it, something between a scream and a curse, followed by her father in the front yard in what can only be described as “interpretative dance of fighting an invisible cat.” (Fun fact, he also vomited in the yard). Then her scream as the fleeing pests reached us and her trying to stop them in those very small heels.
The appraiser never did go in that house, just noted it as “condemned” and a health hazard to enter. And we did get that low low pricing back that we wanted.
I would one day return to that home, years later, after I purchased it.