Our airport blvd property is under contract with three backup offers. Whew! That feels good. In a land of new ventures and old, it is good to be moving again on ye old box that bends. It's been too long, amigo.
We are starting to see signs of a thinning herd. What we mean by that is that for a while the local market in our neck of the woods was so hot that it was hard to find a deal. We are now seeing an upswing in auction properties and less movement in the local community. We are not sure if this is due to a seasonal slow down, early signs of a recessional slowing in the overall economy, or the fact that a lot of people play this game and some make money. For months (years?) we have been thinking, and possibly saying, whining, complaining, that the deals we're seeing were going for too much. Which is a nice way to say that we were or are too stupid to pay, for example, $115,000 on a property that would have an ARV of $145,000, and in need of approximately $15,000 to $20,000 in work. Ten grand in profit is great. However, banking on expenses staying within budget, failing to take into account insurance, taxes, city and utility expenses, and a realtor fee -if not marketing the property on one's own -seems extremely foolish and overly restrictive. Like 99.9% of all coach airline seats. These numbers might make sense for rentals, but even there, the value of the rehab (compared to the cost or dollars invested) may produce a marginal cap rate instead of an extraordinary one.
At any rate, we are now seeing more deals. However, we are being extremely judicious about what we jump into. And oh yeah. There is that project that never ends -Main Avenue. This is the project that never ends. Yes it goes on and on my friend. We were just people who started working it, not knowing what it was, and we keep working it forever just because... it is the project that never ends. This is the project that never ends...
Actually, Daylight may be around the corner. Now that we found out that our historical window sizes are not the normal off-the-rack sizes that are all custom sizes. "Hey? That was fun. And cheap, too." However, the silver lining in these clouds is that while this project has drug on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, we have watched the very-bad-never-live-there-in-a-million-years-neighborhood catch up to the old Box Bend vision. There are now some $500,000 and $600,000 projects that have sold not far from us. So... to wrap up the Main briefing, it would have been more economically efficient for us to sell this project a year or more ago, but, we have witnessed a potentially 10% or greater increase in our potential price; from $390,000-$410,000 to the $430,000 -$460,000 estimated range. That is, if we can finish this pig before the summer is over. That's a big 'IF." We have also discussed renting it, and still are debating that move. If we do not need the cash, we may do so, but...
We want to build up our cash reserves. No matter if the recessional forces of all cycles are two years away, or four years away, as sure as Main is having trouble with Lift-Off, those economic currents of slowdown and forces will present themselves again. And when they do, everything will be on sale. Every thing. It will be a time of make or break. We are betting on make -meaning that the discounts in real estate, stock, and other assets will be considerable and fortunes will be made. Legacies will be created. The caveat is that one will need either the cash, or access to cash. Access to cash will be hard to obtain. Just our guess, but the flush and eager sources that are out there now will suddenly become miserly and detail oriented. Of course, building up the cash reserves is no easy feat either. For us, right now, today, the biggest fiscal events on our calendar are taxes (we have an extension) and a Box Bend family member attending college at a not-so-cheap school in a place we like to call, "The City." We also like to call it, "The Big Dirty Apple." Resources are burned at an incredible rate in The City. Good news is that they can also be produced at astonishing rates.
Anywho, it is time to fly. Time to lift off on Airport, use those funds for other things. Other obligations. Others. And time to wrap up Main. We have put new ground controls in place in order to help our contractor fly those friendly skies without incident... or bird strike. Enough with the weak metaphors. But, really... Time to fly.
Welcome back, race fans.
“Dude, where have you been?”
We apologize for the interruption of our regularly scheduled blogcast. A few things have been happening around, or adjacent to, the old Box Bend/C21/Earth’s Pull ranch and elephant ear food truck. Just kidding about the food truck. Although that could be cool in a “Hey kids, are you hungry” sort-of-way.
First and foremost, one of our little crew (or “squad” if you’re a kid in some parts of the Midwest -like where our niece lives) has undergone a detachment from a major organ. We won’t go into too many gory details (like four new openings in his abdomen like some sort of surgical constellation playing out across a very, very pale sky), but we can offer two hints for the mildly morbid and/or constantly curious: First, in a bloated, unhealthy format, utilizing crappy lighting normally found only in surgical theaters, or on a Nokia flip-phone, this organ looks kind of like a cheese danish. Second, it rhymes with, “wall ladder.”
Take your time. Sound it out. We’re confident that you’ll get it. You’re clever. And good looking. Obviously well read.
Second, we have been in the WWE-slash-funhouse-o-mirrors process of trying to get not one, but two new businesses off the ground. Our attention has been diverted. Fortunately, one of the two is actually off the ground. But the image/storyboard that comes to mind is one of nurturing a baby bird that has fallen out of the nest of one’s mellon. It lands on paper with a sickening smack and there is the precarious sense of life or death hanging in the balance as one nurtures and feeds it, holds it and soothes it, and occasionally plays obscure Heavy Metal for it at ear bleed volume. All babies need a jolt once in a while. But overall, these are dark, insular, and flightless days.
Then the day comes when you launch the little bugger. You’ve named it. You’ve claimed it. And you have jabbered on about it incessantly. You’ve fed it. You’ve read to it. You’ve even named it again -deciding that the first name was unworthy of something that can fly. But now, now is the time to see if the bird really can fly. Named or not. So with heart beating wildly, you throw it up in the air and watch in gobsmacked horror as the thing flaps wildly as it try’s to find purchase on invisible currents. It comes within millimeters if crashing into the dog feces splattered on the ground. It is wobbly and unsure. It has the flight pattern of a drunk pilot. It darts out into traffic as 18-wheelers and kids on cellphones careen by at breakneck speed. They’re doing 80 and this thing is doing 1. One mile per hour. You cover your eyes, but watch through splayed fingers. You have to pee and you have heartburn. It may be your gallbladder. Finally, the bird is across the street and out of sight. The bird is off on its own. Survival is dubious, but you spend countless hours looking for it, preparing for it, hoping for it, working on half-cooked schemes to make it soar. Oh little bird. Sweet, sweet little bird.
Fly, you bastard!
Meanwhile, the second baby bird not only falls out of the nest, but regurgitates all over your clean, shiny, moleskin notebook. This one has some issues unto itself. Possibly stomach related. You understand. The question isn’t one of flight or first launches. The question is one of survival past the paper stage, as well as the initial investment of time and money. It may need surgery in order to fly. The lab results are still out for analysis. But that’s true of all businesses-established or new. So you soldier on in a Florence or Fred Nightingale sort of way. You hope and pray. But if surgery is necessary, so be it. And you know the truth; not all birds live.
In the meantime, your contractor in your Bent Box business has experienced some bad truck ju-ju and your Main project is delayed while a medicine man disguised as a mechanic performs ancient and secret arts on the motor. But, in possibly good news, the little commercial project/land by the airport has closed. And a county far, far away has recognized the subdivision of yet another plot of land. This has now been recorded in heavy plat tomes.
So one does a happy dance to some heavy metal music-while stocking up on birdseed. This is the dance of all bird launchers. But it is only truly known by those that dare in the realm of flight.
And that’s about it for now. Nurturing on a personal, slightly north-of-the-border-way. And nurturing in a mental-cat-mouse-bird-Granny-and-Sylvester-throwback-flying-word-association-game-way.
But there is more to come soon, race fans, so please do stay tuned. In the meantime, we hope that you launch a few baby bird ideas yourself.
And that you avoid the cheese danishes.
Hey Race Fans! Welcome back!
In our last post, we talked about a preferred change in direction; one of working towards more rental units -both commercial and SFR/multi-family. That doesn’t mean that we’ve stopped doing the other things that the old double-B does. We’re working on Main -when it isn’t snowing. And we’re still on the hunt. On the prowl. Looking and bidding and working the system we have developed. Sniffing out deals.
This week we found ourselves snowbound in NYC. Not that there was a lot of snow in the Big Apple. There was some snow in the Triangle area of North Carolina, though. And this equated into flight cancellations after flight cancellations. So, when in Rome or Babylon or New York...
We looked at some architecture in NYC —one of our original passions. We ate a good meal at Eataly -Flat Iron, and visited Eataly at the World Trade Center. One terrific steak also went down the hatch. We slept two nights in the fashion district, and one night at The Standard -High Line. And, oh yeah, our oldest son transferred to a university in “The City.” Which brings us back to the system and working it like a dog. A German Shepherd. Or maybe a St. Bernard. Or another breed. Not a Dachshund. Or a teacup poodle. None of that silliness. This is the dogged perseverance of a large breed. We need to continue to produce. The kid, and the rest of the fam, will continue to consume. Breaking it down further, it comes down to two things: Goals or a plan, and work. The goal or plan is the easy part. The work will produce the “food.” So we continue to chase leads -even from New York.
Work. Work you Husky. Keep chasing down those deals, or Frisbees, or soft-balls, or a large steak with plenty of meat on the bone. We’re chasing a porterhouse now -Lucky dogs that we are.
Well Happy New Year, Race Fans! Here’s what’s going down.
Our little project on Main has been wracked to and fro by myriad issues since inception. The last such being the permit process that included new drawings, new engineer letters, new hundred dollar bills, etc. This has been our longest start to not-even-close-to-finish in our history. But some progress has been made. This includes an ominous looking black front door and the beginnings of a beautiful ceiling on the first floor. Our contractor sent over some blurry photos -posted here for your own home-brewed version of a sobriety test. (If some of this looks blurry, you are not drunk. If the ceiling shot is crystal clear, you are drunk.)
Now, as we turn the page on the final and 12th chapter of the year, we are taking a little time to reflect upon not only our year, but our history.
As some of our erstwhile readers may know, this thing of ours started on a small island off the coast of Italy. The island was called, “Earth’s Pull” and was actually a website. So, fogeddaaboutit, it isn’t a real island like Sicily, Salvatore, and this isn’t the mob. When we discuss this thing of ours, that is. We started Earth’s Pull to document our pursuit of escaping gravity (the rat race) and entering that rarified air of a life on more favorable terms than 9 to 5.
As we became more involved in flipping, and very early on into the whole Earth’s Pull effort, we decided to start an LLC or two and get a different name (other than Earth’s Pull) cranking away. After a search or two online, a couple of food inspired naps, and some serious polling of family members, we came up with Box Bend. After all, this is what we do. We take little boxes and pull them and push them and bend them into new and rejuvenated Box forms. And although the domain of www.littleboxespulledpushedandbendedintonewforms.com was available on Go Daddy, we went with www.boxbend.com. And then www.boxbendcrew.com for this blog.
And through it all all we had the goal of being a profitable little LLC. This is not always possible, but so be it. For the most part, two or three exceptions noted, we have been profitable. And this has been good. And fun. However, there are two dark spots on our sun.
The first problem that all renovators and flippers go through, or maybe it would be better to say that the first realization one comes to in the flipping game is, tomorrow you will have to drag your carcass out of bed and go do this thing all over again if you want to maintain the lifestyle you hope to become accustomed to. This is a dairy farm gig. Every stinking day someone has to milk the cows. Granted, it is a good gig when done correctly. And for all the obstacles and hurdles and gymnastics and disappearing materials, it can be a fun gig. Each project holds the genesis of a new adventure. But it is a one-and-done deal if one buys, renovates and then sells.
The second dark dark spot or problem is what we will call the HGTV Paradigm. This is the underlying theory that one can watch someone flip a house on HGTV, then buy, then renovate in one week, then sell, and then get an HGTV deal of one’s own. Subsequent results are an influx of neophytes overpaying for projects, or “lipsticking” over serious problems, and then making a small profit and thinking that this is the way to play the game. Stardom awaits. All that whiny little narrative to say that, at least in parts of our market, people are overpaying for property. Or at least we think so.
So what does this have to do with the price of tea on earth or even on the moon -beyond the gravitational pull? Well, hopefully bringing it all together, we got into this in part to become independent. And, given the current situation coupled with that overarching goal, we are tending more and more towards a model of buy-renovate-hold and lease. We feel that this is where real wealth can be found. We have been slowly doing this with different deals. East Main may be the next such deal. Our new goal being to build up our commercial and residential rental portfolio to greater heights.
Now don’t get us wrong. We will still buy-renovate-sell if we can find a deal that gives us the safety room we need. We will also sell out of necessity if need be, but our strategy is to buy and hold whenever this new direction is conducive to our rental criteria.
Box Bend 2.0 is all about portfolio building and strategic investments married up to old school land and building flips. We’re looking for the ratio to be 51% or higher in favor of portfolio building.
Now all we we need is a good recession. Everything will be on sale and the neophytes will evaporate in a cloud of bad deals and iffy TV.
Oops. Did we say that out loud?
Want to make a million dollars or more?
Invent a pre-poop detector for baby bouncers.
Possibly more financial reward depending upon the inverse ratio of the amount of SC Johnson products, specifically “Shout,” that one uses for the poop cleanup/pre-treat that has mushroomed out of the top of the elastic pants due to excessive bouncing. The same poop that explodes into the shirt, and then spreads across the expensive sheets where one, in admitted haste, may go to change the poopy baby. The same baby that may grab the poop with her ninja-baby death grip and then grab the duvet cover. Even more reward for a machine that notifies a father that there are no baby wipes within reach.
Big, big dollars. Big.
Hey Race Fans! Welcome back.
We have been busy busy busy. So busy that we don’t have time for commas.
So let’s catch you up, boo.
First off, Main is back on track. Our contractor has been framing like a crooked cop ever since we said good bye to the amateur hour stuff we had going on. (See our earlier post.) Now, if we can take this project that is back on track and end up in the Black, well then, we will be Back in Black. And we bet you know, we’re glad to be back. Let loose... from the noose. You know the one... kept us hanging about.
At any rate, our contractor straightened out the mess the previous guys left and has most thing roughed in. Including stairs. Which we climbed. Yesterday. Here’s a little Box Bend tip for those looking to get into flipping: If you’re wearing vintage Puma kicks to the site, they will offer zero protection from nails sticking out of a pile of boards at the top of stairs. Ouch! (You, sir/mam, are welcome.)
We also are seeing some serious porch action. (See the second photo above, and the one below.) Front and side porches for summertime swings, sweet tea, and possibly a viewing of Bull Durham on a laptop equipped with Amazon Prime. You know; feet up, the Puma kicks with the nail hole in the right sole on the floor, and a way-too-comfortable chair. Yeah...
In addiction to all things Main, we have rented out Barbour Store. This was under the condition that the massive lawn is cut. Which in turn found us buying a zero-turn mower for the tenant Yee-ha! Did we mention that it’s a very big lot?
And we have our ears open for the next Box Bend project. Our GC thinks he has one hooked for us. We’ll see. In the meantime we will be hanging out here. Working on Box Bend 2.0 (hopefully ready by spring or summer). Dressed comfortably and watching Amazon Prime... in our Pumas.
We are pleased to announce that the Spanish company, OPDE, has signed a one year option to lease land from Box Bend, LLC. (A Bon Vivant World company.) If executed, the lease will be for 52 Acres in Lee County, North Carolina over a 35 year term. OPDE is a global player in solar development.
Now back to our regular programming.
Well hello race fans!
Happy weekend and week to come.
We are happy to report that we weren't doing our job and we weren't checking up on one of our contractors. Why happy? Because we learned a very valuable lesson: Always do your job.
Fortunately, that particular contractor imploded. We were very, very fortunate. In secular terms, we got lucky. If the contractor had not imploded, our $15,000 in after-the-fact repairs by the replacement contractor (with $5,000 more to come), would have been multiples of that number. We would have spent tons of money on finishing the renovation only to discover that we had something that would then have to be pulled apart and redone at a heavy, heavy price.
So, shame on us. Not shame on the contractor, but shame on us. We hired these clowns, but never checked up on the circus. We assumed that a license, and a recommendation, coupled with a LLC setup equated into something legit. (The LLC was an LLC on a business card only. Again, we should have checked.) We also assumed that because the progress photos were cool, because the conversation was cool, because the guys were civil and nice, that all was cool at the site. Not true. One or five golden photos will not tell you the complete story-especially if the other fifteen you're not seeing are garbage. Anyone can smile. Anyone can get one good photo out of fifteen. But not everyone can renovate a beast of a job.
We were/are shamed by our complacency. Lesson learned.
So here, in graphic detail, are some of the less golden photographs taken by the replacement contractor and verified by us.
Hey, race fans! How's the old double-hung window hanging?
The BB Crew has been down for a couple of weeks due to stomach flu. Fun! But we're back in the land of the living now. Kind of.
Main Avenue hit a snag with the dissolution of our contractor. Yep, the contractor's company dissolved. Which left us in a bind, but we think we're off to the races again on the job with a new contractor. Here's an object lesson on the concept of "back up." Stay tuned on this fun little project.
Barbour (the elephant) is done. We've decided to hang on to it for a while. We're going to use it for another purpose for the next six or seven months. After that we may sell or rent it out.
Finally, we hired some outside consultants on the potential next stage for Box Bend. Suffice to say that we are considering placing a foot on each side of the development-corporate landlord aisle. This will be a six to twelve month project, and way beyond what we have done before as spec home builder or landlord. Which brings up a couple of points:
We've ripped off and bastardized the British Special Air Service motto -(He) Who Dares Wins. Basically, no guts, no glory. A lot of people talk. A few do. Right or wrong, scaling the peaks or flat on your backside, the only shame is in not trying. One can improve the odds, though.
Education. One can purchase education with time or money. Or both. A good education helps to steer the ship clear of obstacles. We've found the best education is to invest time and money with those that have done what we want to do. This year, so far, we've spent thousands of dollars on our education. This is not unusual for us. If you want to be different you have to do things differently. So far, it has paid off.
When we couldn't afford steep tuition rates or courses or consultants, we bought books on tape and lurked incessantly on websites that dealt with real estate or businesss. We also had (and still have) library cards.
So now we're investing again in ourselves with consultants that have achieved what we want to do. After the consultation, we'll know without a doubt if we are going forward or not. How much is removing a question mark worth? We think it is invaluable.
Okay. Enough of that. In other news, we are officially unemployed. This has been a long time coming, but we're happy to report that as of September 1st, we are gainfully unemployed. We will be working with our consultants, working on a few other projects, and looking at a few opportunities that have been waiting patiently in the wings for us to be... unemployed. We prefer "full-time investors." Either way, bye-bye day gig.
Main has exercised some restraint and some modesty. This is evidenced by the fact that the top is now back in place. That is, the roof trusses are on like Donkey Kong.
Meanwhile, we are searching for the next deal, but we are warily watching a market where wide-eyed cowboys are paying up to 90% of ARV and expecting to make a profit. It may be time to take cash off the table and wait for everything to go back on sale.
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