Spend a Little, Make a Lot

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Our son goes to college in Upstate New York and decided that we spent so much time out there that we might as well buy a house and stop staying in hotels, since we could easily get a 3 bedroom house for uner $45,000.

So we found ourselves a good realtor who turned out to be excellent! When we drove upstate, he would pick us up at our hotel and take us to his choice of houses for us to see (he knew our criteria). He showed us this one house, a white house with an L shaped porch on the corner of a lovely tree lined street. When I walked in, I KNEW I had to have that house (a five bedroom foreclosure in great shape except for the funky wallpaper in the kitchen and the green and burgundy kitchen cabinets! I was dizzy in there, but there were hardwood floors throughout exept for the stairs which were nicely carpeted.

We placed our offer and then learned that the house was going to an online auction. We were freaking out because we wanted this house and as newbies, this was our very first purchase and now they had to throw us a curve ball.

So, our realtor set us up on the auction and taught us how to bid. For a week, we were the only bidders, but something told me that at the end, all hell was going to break out, and it did! When it came down to the last ten minutes, bidders came out of the woodworks and it was nuts. So I told my husband to get on the laptop while I manned the desktop. he would refresh and tell me when new bidders outbid us and I would place new bids outbidding everyone else. It was a race to the very last second, as we all battled it out on our computers. Our dual action was the reason that WE were the successful bidders and we got the house!

We closed on a Friday in October 2006 and our contractor was in there on Monday (we don't play around). We had decided that the best thing to do with that house was to rent it to students, since there were at least 3 colleges in the area. Not only would we rent to students, but we would have the BEST damn student housing around.

So, we had the floors polished and the walls painted, especially one hideous wall that painted red (go figure). We bought new appliances, had them installed and a dining room table (6 chairs and a table for $75) on Craigs List.

We advertised like crazy, had an open house, created a website with all the new pictures had our son put up fliers in his college. Unfortunately, in January, the students all have housing. However, now is the time that students are looking for Summer housing and my son told us that there will be a housing frenzy, so to get ready. We're definitely ready. One student has already signed a lease and move in and we're trying to fill up the other 4 bedrooms, which shouldn't be a problem. We make mortgage payments on a $36.000 mortgage and one student covers that, as we charge $375 per room. $375 x 5 = $1875/month with a nice cash flow after expenses are paid.

We go upstate now once a month and we have our eye on 2 more properties. We want to be prepared with housing when frantic college students are scrambling for a place to live.

Oh, also, for all of our student housing, we provide plates, pots, glasses, bowls,etc. Think that's too much? You just go to the dollar store or Walmart and pick these things up cheap. But boy what an impression it makes when they open the kitchen cabinets at an open house and see matching plates and bowls. They don't have to know you got them from the Dollar Store, but it looks great and these small little things set us apart from all other student housing who only provide four walls and an echo.

So, the moral of this story is, spend a little, make a lot and it's a win-win for everyone.

Pam Bodley
Elmsford, NY

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