Summer’s just around the corner and the sun is out longer now. Always my favorite time of year.
And I just closed the books on April. Busy month!
Nope, K and I still have not succeeded buying a home (more on that in a bit).
However, I did a good chunk of work on HYW this month. Also started part 2 of my side project in earnest. After sketching out a work plan last month, I started nibbling the edges. By mid-May, I’ll slow down work on HYW through mid-August while I crank out and finish this side project. Can’t wait for it to be done!
Next month, K and I are going on a badly needed vacation – our first in 16 months – to London and Paris. Neither of us have been to either city, so we’re excited. Two weeks for two magnificent cities. We decided not to travel anywhere else so that we can just explore each city in depth, at a more measured pace, than would be possible if we were just visiting for a couple days in each place.
Plus, exchange rates are favorable right now, especially after Brexit. I grew up always remembering the British Pound to be equivalent to $1.50 – $1.80. Right now it’s only $1.30. Sweet! Even the Euro is only $1.10, cheap by historical standards.
Of course, we’re avoiding exchange rates entirely for the most expensive part of the trip: flights and hotels. We cashed in some of our million-plus reward points to redeem free roundtrip flights for two and centrally located 5-star hotels for all 13 nights.
I said, for all 13 nights. 😀
Since summer is high season, our hotel redemption rates were crazy good, exceeding 3 cents per point. Our flight redemptions were even better, exceeding 4.5 cents per point.
Now, on to April results! In April, I booked net revenue of $3,161, up +10% from last year.
Let’s see what went down.
1. House hunting combat continues….
Oh lord. We wrote zero offers in April. Not for lack of trying. There were just very few reasonably priced homes.
We considered two properties seriously.
One a fourplex – good general location, but some deferred maintenance and the rents were low. There was some meat left on the bone, so to speak, and I was confident I could add value and force some appreciation, all while house hacking. But K didn’t dig the property and I didn’t love it enough to push it, so after a long think we finally decided to pass. Some other investor probably got a good deal, though. Sigh.
Then, a couple weeks later, we saw a very promising triplex in a terrific location. The price was actually the same as the fourplex, but the location MUCH better – a worthwhile trade. The exterior also looked newer, and met all of K’s criteria (and mine). It was on a very residential street, yet only a 6-minute walk to a major downtown strip with tons of good restaurants, dessert shops, bars, startup / business office buildings, parks, even a decent movie theater.
It would be a cinch to rent out.
Now, the schools in that area sucked. But we figured we could deal with that later. It would be several years at earliest before we’d have to worry about whether junior was getting quality schooling.
So we contacted the listing agent to see it, and we were told no showings would be allowed until 8 days later due to tenant scheduling constraints.
But we hopped in our car anyway and drove over just to walk around the outside and get a feel for the hood. We liked it enough and racked our brains to figure out how to access the property sooner. Luck! Turns out the listing agent scheduled a “broker’s tour” for noon a couple days later: that’s where brokers and agents tour the unit so they know how to pitch it to their customers (buyers don’t often attend these).
Normally, K and I cannot attend tours in the middle of the day, when broker’s tours typically happen, but K luckily had that day off, so the night before we rushed to coordinate with our agent to attend the broker’s tour. But we didn’t hear back in time, so I just urged K to show up anyway and tour along with the other brokers. (No one will kick you out.)
But then, 30 min later, I got an email notification that the property just went pending / taken off market and the broker’s tour was cancelled!
I texted the listing agent and was like, what’s up. And he said a stealth dark horse offer had been accepted!
What the HECK.
So, this is actually pretty common in the Bay Area. It’s happened to me a few times already. Still, completely demoralizing.
We had already started reading the disclosures – which takes a lot of time and focus then, bam!, they just delist the property.
Whatever their offer was, it must have been spectacular. Because, the house went pending without the seller issuing a single inspection report and without hosting a single showing.
It’s usually not in the seller’s interest to take the first offer that comes along and skip the bidding process. Sellers only stand to gain by having a competitive auction with multiple offers coming in. So usually it means the seller got an all-cash, no-condition offer WAAAAAAY over list price (like 20+% over), and a 7-day close.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as they say.
And given where prices already are, it’s super hard to compete with that, no matter how heartfelt your cover letter / video / song and dance is.
So, while we had hoped to write an offer on this place, and we were ready to offer ~12% over list, we never got that chance….
So…Bay Area readers, ahem: have an old house you wanna sell but don’t want the hassle of cleaning, staging, marketing, and dealing with nosy neighbors parading all over your nice stuff?
Holla. I’d love to buy your place. I can close fast and pay all cash.
2. Twitter followers: ~1,041
In April I hunkered down and wrote some software to help automate and manage HYW on Twitter. I built my own tool so I no longer use Twitter’s API. Now, after several months of flat followership, we’re growing followers again: we got a big spike the last couple weeks and broke the 1k mark. Best part is, it’s hands off and involves no oversight from me anymore.
3. New credit card bonus signup
After taking a break from credit card hacking for a couple months, I signed up for a new card again: the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card.
It’s a softball card because it only requires $1k spend in 3 months. You get a signup bonus of 60k IHG points, redeemable at hotels within the Intercontinental Hotel Group family of properties. 60k points is good for 1-6 nights depending on the hotel brand. The first-year fee is waived, then $49 annually thereafter. You also get a free night at any IHG property in the world as an anniversary gift each year, which can actually justify keeping the card and paying the $49 if you max out the free night redemption. For example, the IHG Bora Bora is more than $700 per night – $49 is a good trade in comparison!
4. Other growth initiatives
I started going through the recorded videos I have from the email marketing conference I mentioned I enrolled in a few months back. There’s some good insights on list building and growing traffic, but thank goodness for 2x speed viewing, ‘cause there’s almost 100 hours of video to go through, and I’m only about a quarter way through!
1. Continue house hunting…but may spill into next year
Since K and I are getting ready for a much needed vacation next month, it’s probably not possible to bid and close on a house in time before we leave, even if we get an offer accepted today. That means, barring some dramatic development, our bidding efforts are likely going to freeze for about a month until we return.
There’s still sizeable deal flow in late June through end of summer, for sure, and we’ll still be continuing our search throughout those months. But it’s possible given the overall level of the market that we may be looking into next year if we don’t close by end of this summer, since inventory drops off a cliff in the fall.
2. New case study (stretch goal)
Still looking forward to creating a big step by step guide on how to find, analyze, and structure real estate purchases, but breaking ground on it will be a stretch goal for May because part 2 of my side project starts heating up this month.
However, I do have a fun post in store for May that’ll land toward end of month, and I can’t wait to share that with you!
3. Grow traffic
I’ve started devoting significant energy toward working on growth and promotion for HYW. I expect this to continue. Traffic and email signups are increasingly important, now that there’s a critical mass of decent content on the site.
I plan to spend a chunk of time in May continuing to review the videos I have from that email list building conference. Then figuring out strategies to apply efficiently to HYW, and in what sequence. More coming on this.
Current subs: 396
May target: 440
On to May!