By now, you all know how I feel about spreading negativity – I don’t like it. Wait, was that negative? I try my best to keep my state of mind positive. Lately I have good days and bad but my family is what brings me back to good. I’ve read so much negativity about people having to spend time with their families lately and it’s downright sad. We all have some fear about the future regarding the virus and the economy but I, for one, am getting to know my kids in different ways. We’re eating better and exercising more outside. I am talking to friends and family on the phone and using FaceTime to show grandparents their growing grandkids and “grandchicks” as our daughter calls her new baby chicks – when talking to her grandparents.
When we face any challenge I like to try to figure out what I can learn from it. In this situation I feel like we are in a game of freeze tag where the life we were each building froze in place and whatever position we were in is the one we’re going to be in for a while. This, to me, is a lesson to take with us moving forward. As we are always trying to grow and plan for the future, we need to try to live a life we love in the present as if we might get frozen in it at any moment. What a great reminder to design a life you love at every stage.
I have also been reminded how little we need to be happy. I don’t know when we’ve last filled the gas tank and we’ve really only bought food – and we have never been happier.
So what does this have to do with the Midnight Infomercial House? (click here if you haven’t read that story) We don’t want to act like everything is perfect and that there is no fear or anxiety in our house. There certainly is. We do have anxiety about making mortgage payments while some of our great tenants are struggling with job loss. But what I am going to focus my thoughts on are the tenants like the ones in the Midnight Infomercial House. This is a sweet couple who didn’t reach out to tell us they couldn’t pay the rent but emailed us to check on us, by name, during this difficult time. They asked how I was doing with my job and mentioned that they were well, if not just a tad stir crazy. It was such a kind gesture and meant so much to us.
We bought that house to solve their problem and it was a home run for us. The purchase was built on a relationship we formed. They achieved use of their equity and a fixed monthly payment. We achieved a rental with no money out of pocket. They get to stay in their home for as long as they choose to.
While we may not have as much growth as some investors who use pressure to try to buy deals, we feel good about the deals we do buy and are certain that the sellers and renters would sell to, or rent from us again. Having that solid relationship means that our tenants don’t want us to fail any more than we want them to fail. I know that those who are still employed are going to pay the rent. And if they all pay, we are hopeful that we can help those tenants who are truly in a tight spot right now. As for April, all of our tenants paid in full and on time except two, who paid about half of their rent.
If we can help those who are having a difficult time, we will probably have even more loyal renters after this situation resolves. I don’t know if Karma is the correct word but treating tenants like people has come back around to us many times over. This business isn’t easy – nothing worth doing is but it is easy to treat people kindly. We have to be firm with rental due dates to establish the rules but we fulfill repairs quickly and treat our tenants like the great people they are. We charge late fees but we send Christmas cards. We charge application fees but we give gift cards and flowers for house warming gifts. We each play a role in this relationship. Right now is our chance to remind those who can pay that rent is due and to offer some grace and assistance to those we can afford to help. To those people who did nothing wrong but who were frozen in a less favorable position than we were for this sometimes cruel game of freeze-tag.
This isn’t intended to be a humble brag piece about our ability to help. We aren’t rich and we do have mortgages to pay. We’re scared – like everyone else. We may not be able to help all of those tenants who are struggling before this thing is over. We may not even be able to keep our houses. We think we built our business prudently but we certainly didn’t build it with a pandemic plan. We don’t know where this ends. But we still can affect so much of this situation by how we choose to act and what we choose to focus on. We will not lose our sense of humanity. We will not lose our family. We will not lose our faith – in God or people. We will not focus on the fear or the unknowns. We will focus on the gift of this time with our family. We will focus on the country we are lucky enough to live in that offers relief to those who are hurting. We will focus on the kind tenants who care enough to check on us.
This virus is a “leveler” of sorts. Right now we all are eating meals in our homes, reading and watching too much T.V. Some are in nicer homes than others but first class seats don’t matter when planes don’t fly. Luxury cars don’t matter when we have nowhere to go. We are fighting a virus that shows us exactly how connected we are despite how much we try to act like we aren’t. We are wearing homemade masks we know won’t protect us much but that may protect someone else from us. The rich and the poor are both applying for relief. We are all adapting to the positions we were frozen in. But we aren’t mentally frozen. We have decisions to make regarding how we move forward daily and in what we choose to look at – to look for.
Growing up with parents who were intellectual academics I learned so much but I didn’t learn about Capitalism other than from a fairly critical perspective. I have since learned that businesses can have purpose. Now is our chance to see how big our purpose can be. Let’s cross our fingers, check the wind, and see how we can help. People first. Profit second. Damn hippie values I just can’t completely shake – and I don’t want to. Please be safe as you continue through these uncertain times. If you are struggling during this time I challenge you to write down one new thing every morning that you are grateful for and, as always, keep the main thing the main thing. We will get through this!
Pryme Homes Interview link is here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=221565805737261
Consider subscribing to their podcast for more great content at An Investor’s Journey Podcast