All Things Real Estate: A look inside my rentals, purchases and gambles

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All Things Real Estate: A look inside my rentals, purchases and gambles

We were living in Little Neck from 1975 (when we got married) through 1977.  Our first rental was a two-bedroom, one bath on the first floor for $225. After one year we moved up to the second floor to a three-bedroom and one bath with a terrace and a garage that we paid $275 per month for. We were ecstatic to gain such excellent space and a terrace, too.

Our utilities were all-electric (heat and hot water), however, and were in addition to our monthly rent. Our Con Edison electric bill back then was around $125 per month. Those same rentals today would easily be $2,000-$2,700 per month an eightfold to tenfold increase.

In 1977 we moved back to my hometown of Great Neck. The price of our first home in the Village of Great Neck was $83,500 on North Road. I remember the interest rate was 8.1% and our mortgage and taxes were less than $600 per month. It was a small colonial a bit over 1,000 square feet in Great Neck with what I thought at that time was a decent owner’s suite with two very small additional bedrooms and only one bathroom next to our kitchen.

There was a small living room and a very small family room in the front of the home where in 1981 we watched MTV’s first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Bugles. We had a good-sized deck in the rear. Our basement was unfinished where I ran my business. We had an oil burner producing hot water heat in our one zone system. However, the majority of the time, we heated our home during the winter with our amazing wood-burning stove in the living room.

At the time I had a landscape design, professional lawn-tree-and-shrub application business and was generally able to get my wood for much less than the price of oil and many times for free. The only improvements we had done were the bathroom and wallpaper in the kitchen.

Although the rates back then were much higher than our current rates, the price of a home was one-fifth the price of the average price of a home in the United States today. But 45 years later, our local Long Island prices—depending on the town and location—are higher by four to ten times what they were back then.

In 1981, we bought our first two-family investment property on Steamboat Road for $83,200 and rented it out. It was on 27,000 square feet of property. We renovated the two kitchens and vinyl-sided the exterior. I ran my business out of it for several years and then sold it for $385,000, used the proceeds to purchase another piece of property in Hempstead in 1985 and built our own facility to house our trucks and materials.

In 1984, I took the real estate licensing course in Port Washington, as I was thinking of selling my current business and wanted real estate as an option to pursue as my next venture.

By 1986, we sold our first home for $176,250, which provided a 47% gain that we rolled over to our next home, which at the time was allowable on primary residences as long as you moved those gains within a two-year period. My kids were elated to know that our next home would provide them with much larger bedrooms, so they couldn’t wait to move.

In 1986, through many negotiations, we paid $404,000 for our next home located in Kings Point, owned by Charles Ward, who owned a surveying company called Ward and Webber on Great Neck Rd. We stayed in that home for only 18 months as we found it way too large for two adults and two children. Before selling the only improvement made was the replacement of the oil burner. At that time the market was on fire! We sold it for approximately $695,000.

I started to realize and surmise that the real estate business was a very lucrative one without any employees. I determined that this was my next calling.

Our Next home was back in the Village of Great Neck where we paid $400,000. A few years later a buyer rang our bell and wanted to purchase our home. The market was definitely softening, so we decided to sell. However, we decided to rent for a while as our gain was only $30,000 and we felt we would wait and see what the market would do in a year or two. However, we ended up renting two different homes for four years and invested our proceeds in rentals, waiting to see a change in the market to consider purchasing once again.

October 1987, was a huge turning point as the stock market crashed and we were extremely happy that we had sold and not bought again. Although I normally don’t recommend renting, at that time it was one of the best decisions we had made to date. Prices tumbled while we were renting.

By 1993, we finally bought once again for $287,500 and the seller provided us a mortgage so we saved all the bank fees. We are still happily in the same home after 29 years, the kids are married with grandchildren. We probably won’t be selling in the foreseeable future, but our current value is around $975,000, being somewhat on the conservative side. The last time I checked, a little less than 90% of the homes in Great Neck are listed above $1 million. Eight months ago92.4% were listed above $1 million. So prices have come down slightly.

The future is always hard to predict, but things are changing and price increases will definitely not be as they were previously and appreciation will be much less, too, as inventory slowly increases. But for now, the severe lack of inventory and still stronger than normal demand will still keep prices in a strong position, but that could change, too.

Philip A. Raices is the owner/Broker of Turn Key Real Estate at 3 Grace Ave Suite 180 in Great Neck.  He can be reached by cell: (516) 647-4289 or by email: [email protected]

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