NUTS & BOLTS THE BIG PICTURE
STRATEGIES: REITs AMAZON
to make some money. Sometimes, we have a huge impact if the area has high unem- ployment,” Jim explained. “This has paid off time and again over the years because the locals, residents or not, feel ownership of that property. They keep an eye on things when we’re not there, clean up trash or broken glass if someone leaves it in front of the building, and always call us if they think there is the ti- niest potential for a problem in the building, be it maintenance-related or otherwise. These aren’t just our residents; they’re our residents’ neighbors and they act like it.” “They’re our family,” Tammy said succinctly. WHAT FAMILY ISWORTH That extreme emphasis on family is the key to the Phelps-Kegloviches’ unique brand of success in multifamily real estate investing. “I’m not sure that everyone could do this the way we do it,” admitted Tammy bluntly. “We put every part of ourselves into
our business and into our investments. It is everything to me to create community in underserved markets and areas where others have no interest. To build beautiful, new, affordable, safe homes and thriving communities is a dream come true.” However, before the heart comes the math, and the two have a very clear outlook on what kind of properties make for good multifamily investments in general as well as for their specific strategy of renovation and community building. Like most successful multifamily investors, Tammy and Jim take a hard look at the cold, hard numbers before they start looking at the intangibles. “We look for properties where there is a lot of opportunity for expansion, a lot of room to add value by increasing occupancy and decreasing turnover,” explained Tammy. “Jim does not just do cosmetic upgrades, which are always good for any new invest- ment, but also is always on the lookout for affordable ways to dramatically improve
current residents’ living conditions and prevent future maintenance issues.” Thanks to Jim’s particular interest and expertise in making sure that every investment is built on “good bones” that will support it and reduce time and money spent on maintenance later, the two are well-equipped to take on proj- ects that do not just look good on paper, but that call to their hearts as well. “When we first started taking on multifamily, I knew that it was a great in- vestment with a great rate of return when done right. What I didn’t know was how much I would want to repair the commu- nities that had been handled wrongly over the years,” said Tammy. “It becomes so important to us not just to make money on these investments (although that is the reason we make them of course) but also to create homes that our residents can be proud of in the process.” That theme, that at the end of the day expenses will be justified and the returns
Amazon’s NewHeadquarters Could Redefine “The Path of Progress” WHAT JEFF BEZOS’ EVERYTHING STORE MIGHT MEAN FOR REAL ESTATE.
will work themselves out if you just provide a safe place for a family to be nourished and grow, is a recurring one with the Phelps-Kegloviches. “When we’re in the building phase, every penny goes back into the community. It’s all worth it in the end when you have a great place for families to live and where they’re proud to live,” said Tammy. “I’m glad about everything that happens, even the mistakes, because at the end of the day we get to celebrate the opportunities we have to leave this world better than we found it.” •
by Carole VanSickle Ellis
n 2013, Brad Stone’s book, The Everything Store, became an in- stant bestseller with its revealing narra- tive detailing the evolution of Jeff Bezos and his internet behemoth, Amazon. com. Bezos once referred to Amazon as an “everything store” that would, in Stone’s words, “offer limitless selection and seductive convenience at disrup- tively low prices.” It certainly turned out to be disruptive and sell just about everything, so Bezos was not far off in his prediction. Four years after The Ev- erything Store hit shelves, Bezos is busy shaking up another industry, real estate, not by buying and selling it himself but I
Smaller cities offered to build out their entire infrastructure to the retail titan’s specifications. Several states declared their intention to apply on a regional basis instead of a municipal one. In short, everyone immediately wanted in. The potential headquarters, which Amazon has dubbed HQ2, is indisputably a big deal. “This is the trophy deal of the decade as far as I can tell,” observed Greg LeRoy, executive director of nonpartisan economic research group Good Jobs First. Amazon specified in the initial call for bids that it would need on-site access to mass transit (meaning that the headquarters would need a designated
simply by proposing his company build a new headquarters in whichever U.S. city convinces him it wants it the most.
OPENING THE FLOODGATES This past September, Amazon an- nounced it would build a second head- quarters outside of Seattle, Washington, where its current headquarters stands. The company is not leaving Seattle, but simply expanding eastward. In the imme- diate wake of the announcement, major metro areas like Chicago and San Diego publicly declared their intent to entice Amazon with incredible opportunities.
Carole VanSickle Ellis is the editor of Think Realty Magazine. She can be reached at
Tammy’s hands-on approach to multi-unit community management extends to regular meetings with residents and managers to make sure everything stays on track.
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