When people think about investing in real estate, many seem to focus on buying a big multi-family, maybe living in one unit and renting the others, or just renting the whole thing out. While this is certainly one option, in our local market, it can be a challenge to find multi-families for a good value. This is because there’s a ton of competition out there from big-time investors as well as developers looking for condo conversion properties.
Owning multi-unit rental properties also requires a lot of hands-on maintenance and a hefty cash reserve for upkeep and unanticipated repairs — a failed heating system or leaking roof can’t be put off because you can’t afford the fix.
The solution? If you’d like to *dip your toe* into real estate investment, a great way to start is to purchase a small condo unit in a professionally-managed building close to one of the universities and/or a T stop — these properties can often be had for under $300k, and can fetch rents between $1200-1400 for a studio to $1600-$1800 for a one-bedroom. Things to look for: reasonable condo fees and taxes, an association with a decent reserve account to cover future work, no planned or potential upcoming assessments (if there are some, the seller may be willing to pre-pay for a buyer), and a reliable management company that takes care of things like common area cleaning, snow removal and financial management for the building.
Here’s an example of a great starter investment condo I’ve currently got listed — it’s got the perfect location as a rental for MIT grad students/post-docs and employees at any of the biotech/hi-tech companies in Kendall, with market value rent in the range of $1700 – $1800. Its low condo fees and taxes and property managers who take care of everything, make this a no-brainer. If you’d like a showing, get in touch!
218 Thorndike Street, Unit 303, Cambridge — 1 BR/1 ba, 611 SF, listed at $299,000
Key rentability factors: convenient Kendall/MIT location, new carpet, kitchen appliances and fresh paint, central a/c, garage parking, in-unit laundry, balcony, bike room and extra storage in the basement.