Vivian’s Case for Real Estate and Art- The Beginning as an Artist
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TIP OF THE WEEK: Keep an open mind and outcomes may surprise you.
Dedication to art led me to my first real estate purchase. Why? Artists need materials to produce works, but where do they create and more importantly where do they store their works? Sculptors have even more specific needs, solid foundations to work up large works and easy transport from the studio to the outdoors.
Throwback to 1979 I was living and working as an artist in a downtown LA loft. The lease was for 5 years at 11 cents a square foot for 3000 square feet at $175 a month. I knew that the rent was short-lived and soon I’d be sent on my way to find another loft dragging with me the large works that I produced over 5 years. I wanted to be in Manhattan, but even then, real estate cost for me was out of reach.
Jersey City was an option, 30 cents on the PATH and 5 minutes to Manhattan and it was not yet discovered. A plane flight later and a day, I found a property with mixed use zoning. It was 4 stories, flat roof and full basement on a lot 25’ x 100’. I gathered a group of artists to purchase the property together from the realty company that owned it. The interest rates in 1981 were through the roof. This was a 15% interest rate, but the cost of the entire building was only $80,000. The realty company did not check our credit and honestly, I knew nothing of the process of buying a property. We were just that lucky and Jersey City was not the place anyone wanted to buy.
The realty company held the mortgage and I truly believe they thought we’d default. After all, how could a group of poor artists keep up the payments? Not only did we keep up with payments but after a change of ownership of a few artists, one partner, paid off the mortgage when the rates went down to 7%. Surprise Realty Company, artists are savvy.
Easy peasy you’d think? Not so! 9 months of major renovation and living in it was what we endured. All walls down, ceiling to the studs, I-beams, stripping 100 years of paint from all oak wood moldings, doors and staircase, new roof, new windows, sheetrock, joint compound mudding, painting, hardwood floor laying, plumbing, electrical, a complete redo! Finally, a conversion into 4 condominiums. Now, I own two and my partner owns two. The work we did turned out to be well worth it.
After renting out one condo for the years when I lived there, I then rented the one I lived in, when moving to Florida in 1999. The rent from these two condominiums helped my family through some tough financial times and most recently one condo now at 50 times the value in 1981 was refinanced so I may now invest in real estate. I am now funding a new build of a single-family home in Sanford that will be for sale very soon.
I never intended to invest in real estate or for that matter become a realtor, but here I am seriously enjoying helping people with their real estate goals, whether moving into their dream house, selling a home to move or invest, or to purchase land and build.