Anthony Chara impressively increased the size of his business from nearly a decade of looking after single-family homes to overseeing more than 1,600 apartment units spread across the country. Of course, telling Anthony’s story includes sharing investing tips and interesting experiences; however, according to Chara, it all ultimately comes down to one thing: not giving up.
As he mentioned in a recent interview, the most important thing that an investor can do — and the most important thing that people in all walks of life can do —is push past roadblocks and learn from the setbacks we all experience from time to time. The learning that is done during these times is invaluable.
How Did It All Come Together?
Anthony Chara’s housing story started in 1993 when he and his wife moved to a different home but continued owning their former residence and rented it out. That gradually increased to 10 of those types of homes until, eight or nine years later, he started learning and putting into practice new strategies such as fixing and flipping homes and engaging in wholesale deals. He soon realized that doing those things was a combination of hard work and considerable rewards.
He entered the apartment aspect of real estate for the first time in 2003 and quickly discovered that the rent checks that he was receiving from those units were significant, particularly in cumulation but also individually in many cases as compared to single-family homes that he had worked with in the past. In the years that have followed, he has been in business with several 100+ unit complexes with the largest at 410, and this has now become his investing focus.
Working With Insurance Companies
One thing every real estate investor needs to take into account is that it is generally not easy to get insurance companies to pay out what they should when they should — for example, when covered properties are damaged in a hurricane. Anthony Chara learned this firsthand when a hurricane damaged a property that he owned in Panama City, Florida. However, it helped to have a public adjuster looking to ensure that the amount paid out was appropriate given the policy and the incident.
He added that ensuring that you have the right type of coverage prior to events such as these is also a must and, conversely, it can prove to be tremendously damaging from a financial perspective if you do not. He is thankful that he had solid hurricane protection for this property located in a hurricane-prone area.
Benefits and Challenges of HAP and HUD
Anthony Chara has also experienced benefits and challenges from working with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Housing Assistance Program (HAP). One of the most significant benefits that he pointed out is that units that are associated with HAP are ones that he receives steady money from, even if they are empty.
However, many of those who are individual buyers or part of a syndication who want to take advantage of that will need to get a HUD loan; a bridge loan may be part of or a substitute for that process.
Also, consider other issues that could arise when working with HUD. For example, a manager who was working for Chara’s syndicate was blacklisted by HUD for repairs that the individual had overseen at a previous property. That resulted in months being spent on rectifying the situation, on the extensive related paperwork, and on hiring a new manager, a period that was partially extended because HUD must interview and confirm any candidates. In the meantime, HAP-related funds were not being paid.
Chara added that other HAP-related issues can also lead to funding being cut. These issues can include dissatisfaction with the condition of the property or how it is being taken care of. Since this is a relatively unpredictable aspect of the arrangement, it is something that an investor should take into account. As a result, Chara said that a good balance for him is to have about 30% of his units under a HAP contract.
It is also important to consider HAP’s voucher program, which is not as immersive. For example, a renter with a voucher will go to complexes that they like and ask if their voucher will be accepted. Although owners of contracted units have a say in who will live there, HAP employees typically end up making the selections.
What Should Go Into a Pre-Purchase Inspection?
One of the most significant ways to earn more money or, more to the point, not lose more money in the big picture is to inspect properties that are being considered and think of issues that may arise in the years to come. Things to look for, according to Anthony Chara, include the drainage in the area. For example, is there somewhere for rainfall and melting of snow to go? It’s also important to inspect the condition of parking lots, roofs, furnaces, air conditioners, mold, and insects. For example, ensure that asphalt parking lots are regularly sealed and restriped so that they do not turn to gravel and mush as the latter prospect results in a much more significant financial burden than the former one does.
Simply put, being as proactive as possible about things such as these will help investors better scale their real estate business and continue to grow their income.